We all know these famous brands but no one ever thinks that these first and last names correspond to real people with a little heart that beats (or that no longer beats because there are quite a few who caned all the same). We have already told you about the fates of pub mascots like the Laughing Cow and the Duracell rabbit, which have sometimes gone wrong. There are even cereal mascots like Professor Weetos who is now enjoying his retirement (and he’s right). Having fun is important, but we also like to learn things so today, we reveal the true faces of these cult brands.
1. Yves Rocher
At only 14 years old, Yves Rocher met a healer who gave him the recipe for a herbal ointment. It was then that he decided to start making treatments and creams, all alone in his attic. At 30, he founded his cosmetics company based solely on natural products. The family business grew and his children and grandchildren worked with him. Upon his death in 2009, his grandson inherited the chairmanship of the company.
2. William Saurin
The William Saurin brand has existed since 1898, when Emmanuel Adolphe William Seurin’s grocery store opened in Saint-Mandé. He changed his name from Seurin to Saurin and the company developed rapidly by selling canned prepared meals and jams. The company remained in the family until 1979, when Vincent Saurin sold it to Lesieur.
3. Alain Afflelou
The face of good old Afflelou may be familiar to you since we have already seen this gentleman in a few ads for the brand. In 1972, Alain Afflelou opened his first optical store at the age of 24 and 6 years later launched a chain of stores in his name. His personal investment in the company, by appearing in advertising campaigns in particular, has enabled the brand to establish itself everywhere in France.
4. Jean-Louis David
Jean-Louis David arrived in Paris in the 1950s and was destined for a career in fashion but finally turned to hairdressing when he was hired in a salon near the Champs Élysées. He takes care of styling several movie stars and quickly becomes known in the trade. At 25, he opened his first salon and developed the group through the franchise system. He is best known in the 1960s for being a great specialist in gradients and for his invention of “fishnet”, a light discoloration. He finally sold his company in 2019 to the group which also owns the company Franck Provost. Jean-Louis David died of cancer in 2019.
5. Franck Provost
Franck Provost is a pupil of the nation and began his professional life at 26 working as an apprentice in a hairdressing salon. He opened his first salon a few years later and took part in numerous competitions. In 1976, he was crowned best hairdresser in France and even won a test at the world hairdressing championship. He became a star hairdresser and opened more and more hairdressing salons.
In the 1950s, Jean-Claude Decaux created a company specializing in advertising displays on motorways. The problem is that a 1964 law increases the taxes on these road signs. The JCDecaux company then moved towards urban billboards and Jean-Claude Decaux invented a new concept: the bus shelter. The goal is to provide municipalities with shelters for people waiting for the bus, entirely financed by advertisers.
It is also he who invents the luminous signs and the information panels on which messages from the municipality can be seen in luminous letters. Jean-Claude Decaux is also the first to offer bicycles as a book-service in France; first with “Vélo’v” in Lyon in 2005 then with “Vélib'” in Paris in 2007.
7. Marc Dorcel
Marc Dorcel launched in 1968 in the edition of erotic works which he sold by correspondence, some of his works becoming best-sellers before being censored for “contempt of good morals”. Marc Dorcel then converted to drawing and selling erotic photo novels before diversifying by starting video with his first film: Pretty Little Bitches (it makes you want). He sets up his company and sells thousands of VHS.
8. Ben & Jerry’s
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield have been friends forever. They met at school in 1963 and said they were the only students in the class who couldn’t run a mile in less than seven minutes. The two friends don’t know what to do with their lives and decide to learn how to make ice cream via correspondence courses. They set up their business together and their ice creams are now renowned all over the world.
9. Dom Perignon
Dom Préignon is a 17th century French monk who would have discovered the method of making wine foam and therefore invented champagne. However, he is neither a winegrower nor an alchemist. This story remains a legend because there is no proof that Pierre Pérignon really made this discovery himself.
10. Loic Reason
In the 1920s, Louis Raison Père launched his cider house and taught this know-how to his son. Later, the company developed and in 1983, Louis Raison Fils decided to call the brand “Loïc Raison”, Loïc being the Breton version of Louis.
11. Pierre Martinet
Pierre Martinet was only 14 when he left his family to learn the trade of butcher. He then buys his own butcher’s shop and does the markets with his 2CV and trestles. Years later, he settled near Lyon and began to sell his products throughout France under a new brand: Pierre Martinet.
12. The Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
Barbe Nicole Ponsardin was a 19th century French businesswoman and the daughter of Baron de Ponsardin. In 1805, her husband François Clicquot died, leaving her a champagne house which produced 100,000 bottles a year; she was then nicknamed “the Veuve Clicquot”. At the time, she was the first woman to run a Champagne house and had remarkable business acumen. She runs this Clicquot house until her death.