France’s advertising SRO sees rise in volume of legal consultation requests

Maria Nikolova

ARPP’s latest newsletter shows that the French are becoming more sensitive to various advertising topics, including the image of blondes.

France’s advertising self-regulatory organization ARPP, which has been working closely with financial markets’ regulator AMF in clarifying and applying the demands of the Sapin II law, has registered an increase in demand for the services provided by its Jury of Advertising Ethics (Jury de Déontologie Publicitaire, or JDP) in 2016.

According to data, published in ARPP’s latest newsletter, demand for legal consultations provided by the JDP staged a rise of 4.9% in the 11 months to the end of November 2016, compared to the same period a year earlier. In 2016, the JDP provided 14,656 consultations compared to 13,972 consultations in the corresponding period a year earlier.

The steepest rise was in consultations concerning sponsorships – whooping 300% year over year. Other steep increases were registered in demand for consultations concerning advertising in movies and the Internet (especially audio-visual content).

The data does not mention any direct link between the climb in volume of consultation requests and the new law prohibiting advertising of certain financial products. But it is worth mentioning that one of the months that saw a hectic activity in seeking such consultations was September 2016, which means that the results may be influenced by the AMF launching a public consultation into the new rules and their application in August.

ARPP’s newsletter is interesting in at least one more aspect – it provides a wider context regarding the French understanding of what an acceptable ad is.

The ARPP quotes the results of a survey amid the so-called “influencers”, that is, people who have personal or professional networks including more than 500 contacts, occupy prestigious positions, or are enrolled in military service. The survey was conducted in waves – the last wave surveyed influencers in April 2016, whereas the preceding was in October 2015. The data shows that an increasing percentage of respondents support the affirmation that an advert should be respectful and should support and promote respectful behavior.

Bottom line is, the French “influencers” are becoming more sensitive to advertising content and messages.

The new rules regarding the advertising of risky financial products are obviously a part of a vaster trend, which can be dubbed “increased sensitivity towards advertising” in France. The ARPP data shows that this sensitivity concerns first and foremost the image of women in advertising.

Would you like an example?

An ad stating that “This is so simple that even a man can do it” is approved by 58% of the respondents, who gauge the message as humorous and easy to understand. However, an ad that says “With regards to technology, we are all a bit blonde” gets a 44% rate of approval and a 40% rate of disapproval, with respondents gauging it as sexist and discriminative.

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