This Spiegel article is about German of course, but just replace “Germany” and “German” with “France” and “French” and the outcome is the same.
How Germans Really See English Ad Slogans: English is all the rage in Germany — the height of fashion, except that many people don’t understand it. Consumer groups would like to see the language banned from German ads altogether.
If you spend much time in Germany, it won’t take long before you notice that speaking the language really isn’t that difficult. Any time you’re at a loss for a German word, just throw in some English and move on. For one thing, it’s the height of coolness to sprinkle your German with English. And for another, even if your German friends don’t understand, they’ll smile and nod for fear of looking dumm.
Plus, they do it too. Words like “office” and “meeting” long ago entered the German vocabulary. “Babysitten” and “downloaden” have been adopted. Even the word “people” has been molded to suit the needs of the German language — the term has a negative connotation to indicate folks who are disagreeable and tiresome.
But when it comes to advertising slogans, the use of English is becoming passé. Some advertisers have realized that many Germans just don’t understand — or even worse, misunderstand — their hip slogans. […] The Vodafone slogan “Make the Most of Now” has weird associations with fruit juice (“Most”) for many Germans. “Welcome to the Beck’s Experience” didn’t work so well because many thought the last word meant “experiment.” The grand prize for slipshod slogans, though, goes to German television station Sat1, which used the catchphrase “Powered by Emotion.” This was taken by many to be a modern version of “Kraft durch Freude,” the Nazi party’s leisure organization, often translated into English as “strength through joy.”
[…] The German capital has just chosen a new — English language — slogan for the city: “Be Berlin.” But at least that catchphrase doesn’t exclude any part of the population. No one, after all, seems to have the slightest idea what it means.