France’s presidential election campaign is under way, resulting in furious commentary from political analysts and observers on the fragmentation of French society; creating doubt and confusion throughout the country.

With this in mind, H+K, in partnership with Landor and Kantar Public, wanted to understand what the French actually expect from their ‘ideal’ president.

By treating the presidency as a distinctive brand, our team used the same approach and methods as normal brand positioning to define the attributes of the “ideal President” of the French people.

Our team began with one premise: if a brand is above all a promise to its consumers, a great brand is a promise that can stand the test of time. It must certainly seduce, but above all resist the test of facts and disappointed promises. It must deliver what it has announced.

Today, politicians – and in first place the President of the Republic – are bound to the same constraints and expectations.

We surveyed a panel in France and realized they all wanted one thing in common: a head of state who would assign him or herself the mission of unleashing the collective potential of the French with the ambition to make everyone feel included in the French national identity.

Landor Paris created two distinct president profiles using its proprietary brand platform to articulate the raison d’être (the “why” of the president, the deep motive of his or her action), the promise (the “how” of the president, the mission he commits to accomplish and the project behind which he or she embarks the French), the differentiating convictions which make him or her a singular actor in the French political landscape and to which he or she commits without compromise.

Two manifestos reflecting the declarations of intention that each of these ideal presidents could pronounce were written to evaluate the resonance of the positions with the expectations of the French and then tested with Kantar Public’s qualitative online community.

The Kantar NeedScopeTM model was then used in an internet survey of a representative sample of the French population of 1,010 people ages 18 and over. This model is based on a universal psychological techniques to grasp the expectations of individuals on intimate and emotional levels. NeedScopeTM was able to distinguish six conceptions of the ideal president. It has brought out the ideals of the French around the two key axes that determine human behavior: Exteriorization-Interiorization and Receptivity/Adaptation-Domination/Affirmation.

The results

 The results highlight how the French situate themselves in relation to these conceptions. The French are mostly waiting for an all-inclusive president. The respondents expressed their wishes to see at the head of France a person capable of ensuring the unity of the French, in a society perceived as more and more fragmented and to make room for each individual in an unstable world.

  • 21% of the French favor a unifying president who brings the French towards a better future, which must first ensure the conditions of the unity of the citizens. Their ideal president must be someone who listens and success can only be collective. In order to achieve this union, the French value equality and kinship; in addition to being enthusiastic about the future, for the main objective of fighting unemployment, so that everyone can feel useful and fulfilled.
  • For 21% of the French, the President must above all be a responsible and competent person, capable of making fair decisions. Those surveyed expressed the need to be reassured by a leader in control of the situation. The president must also be a hard worker who knows how to set him or herself objectives on which the presidency and the government will be judged.
  • 18% of the French aspire for peace and security and therefore see in their ideal president a protector. The ideal president of these French must then above all reassure and protect the citizens. He or she is a careful, benevolent head of state who cares about every Frenchman but must also be transparent so that the president’s fellow citizens can trust him or her. This leader must listen and consider everyone equally and fairly.
  • Whereas part of the surveyed expect a president who takes risks and innovates, more of them express the need for insurance and protection. Only 13% of the respondents want a head of state who is a bold entrepreneur who brings them towards a new world.
  • The mobilizing leader president meets the expectations of 15% of the French for whom the head of state must be an ambitious leader for the country but also for him or herself.

Lastly, 12% of the French people wish for a president who is a bearer of hope, who is positive, and sympathetic, in order to face a pessimistic French context