DIARY: It is plane to see how Publicis' French flair worries some clients

French advertising may be treated with the kind of sniffy distain that is usually reserved for a piece of mouldy Camembert by the international awards juries, but not many ever accused it of lacking class.

And with Maurice Levy waving the tricolor vigorously on the world stage, it's good to see that a bit of old-style Gallic patronage still has its place, as despite the omnipresent recession, Levy's Publicis has now taken to flying senior clients and staff to Paris on its own private airline.

OK, Campaign exaggerates un peu. The interestingly named Digger Airways (I thought we were talking "class" here - Ed) is actually an eight-seater Piper Navaho, hired when necessary to make the 75-minute hop from RAF Northolt to Le Bourget. It has just one pilot, Tim Grace Macdonald, who likes to take time out from his pressing day job as director in charge of Renault to don the gold-braided jacket.

But surely this kind of lavish indulgence is out of place in these straightened times? Au contraire, Publicis says, claiming it costs no more than three business-class fares on Eurostar.

Are people a tad nervous about stepping aboard anything much smaller than a Boeing? "Some are at first," Macdonald, a former Australian aerobatics champion, says. "But once they have done it they are converted." No victory rolls down the Champs-Elysees, then?


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