Nicolas Gaudemet, FTMBA alumnus, on his new book, “La Fin des idoles” | École des Ponts Business School

Nicolas Gaudemet, FTMBA alumnus, on his new book, “La Fin des idoles”

Congratulation to Nicolas Gaudemet, FTMBA alumnus (Paris-2004), on his recently published book entitled ‘’La Fin des Idoles’’.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate our alumnus Nicolas Gaudemet and his incredible success thanks to his latest book. We met him to ask about this milestone and all the creativity background behind this exciting project.

‘’This novel is born of a revolt and a fascination. Revolt against, fascination for our society invaded by screens and brands that try to govern our desires.’’ He questions us about [our] over-mediated world that is in the midst of a recomposition. Absolutely exciting with a relevant point of view on our era.

The book got more than 70 positive reviews. We are delighted to share with you Nicolas interview on his journey.

Is this passion from writing new or something you were already cultivating during your MBA studies? Do you have some unpublished pieces inspired from your days doing the MBA?

It is a long-time passion, as I remember having written a few short stories during my studies. So do I have some unpublished pieces inspired by the MBA? Better: a published one, as I guess that “La Fin des idoles” reuses some experimental psychology ideas from our MBA courses on Psychology of Organizations!

What was your hardest scene to write?

Reproducing realistic TV shows was quite hard, especially since I don’t have a TV! So I had to spend hours watching Kim Kardashian and her likes on my iPad, or listening to different anchor-men to get the right tone and rhythm.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Definitely. I was lucky enough to get only 2 or 3 bad reviews, compared to more than 70 positive. But in art or in the media industry, remember what Oscar Wilde once said: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”. Also remember this quote, attributed to the circus showman Phineas T. Barnum: “There is no such thing as bad publicity”.

Actually, my novel starts with a scandalous TV show, Celebrity Obsession, which gets atrocious reviews!

Do you Google yourself?

Well, I must confess that I Google a lot “La Fin des Idoles” to check if there are any new reviews… Wait, am I a Google addict?!

Many of the revues of your book suggest the movie will be next. Who would you like to play the parts?

I guess many talented actors could play the characters? In particular, Lyne, the dark heroine, was inspired by Faye Dunaway in Network, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct and Robin Wright in House of Cards. Anyone interested in the role?

You have been working in business development and commercial strategy for giants like Orange and FNAC for many years. How much control have you seen in manipulating people through marketing and the media? Which insights or questioning would you like to share with the business community?

Of course I’ve never heard any marketing or media colleague at FNAC or Orange saying “I want to manipulate people”. We just wanted our products to get noticed and be bought.

The issue is that in the fierce race for people’s eyeballs and attention, some media or digital companies may end up luring our primary desires with clickbait content and “hooks”, which can make us addict, but usually not any clever or happier. That’s why there is usually no correlation between viewership and satisfaction.

As a matter of facts, Patrick Le Lay, former CEO of TF1, the biggest TV channel in Europe, once explained to business students that “for an advertisement to be perceived, it is necessary that the brain of the spectator should be available. The role of our programs is to make it available: i.e. to entertain it, to relax it in order to prepare it between two messages. What we sell to Coca-cola is some time of available human brain”. The best-selling business book by Nir Eyal, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, explicitly aims at helping digital companies to develop addictive apps, comparable to casino machines where you spend a lot of your time. But is it well spent?

Fortunately, some companies start to recognize this issue. For instance, former Google product philosopher Tristan Harris resigned to create the “Time Well Spent” Foundation. Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to make “sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent”. Apple and Android recently developed tools to monitor how much time we overspend on applications.

But in “La Fin des idoles”, Lyne proposes a quite radical, much more effective solution, based on neurosciences!

Nicolas, any last thoughts for our alumni?

I think it is very useful to step back, to link different disciplines together, and to consider all the implications of what we are doing. MBA is a wonderful time for that. Enjoy it, and build a better world!


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