Who: French government
When: June 2015
Law stated as at: 1 July 2015
What happened: On the 10th of December 2014, Emmanuel Macron, the French Minister of Economy and Industry, presented a bill for economic growth and activity. While being examined by the Senate, a French Senator, who happened to be a former wine-grower, submitted an amendment to this bill, which had the purpose of modifying the Evin Act provisions.
The Evin Act regulates alcohol advertising in France and its provisions have been integrated into the Public Health Code. It imposes mandatory warnings on alcohol advertisements and imposes strict limits on the content of alcohol advertising.
Indirect advertisements, which are ads that, while promoting something other than alcohol also call to mind, by their design, display, use of trademark or advertising features, an alcoholic drink, must also comply with those specific requirements.
The Senator’s proposed amendments were quite technical and narrowed down what would be regarded as advertising. For instance they proposed to regard as “indirect advertising” only those elements that called to mind or aimed to call to mind an alcohol drink.
Such amendment was widely criticized by alcoholism prevention associations and the French Health Minister.
New proposal rewritten
To deal with those objections, the government rewrote the controversial new law. The text has been adopted as is by the National Assembly after the Government used article 49.3 of the Constitution, which enables the adoption of a bill without a vote of the Assembly.
The new bill provides that some content will not be considered as alcohol advertising but as mere information.
The content that will escape the strict rules will be representations, descriptions, comments or references which refer to a producing region, a toponymy (place or region), a geographical indication, a local product or production (“terroir”), an itinerary, a production area, know-how, history, a cultural, culinary or landscape heritage related to an alcohol which has a quality identification (for example the red label), an origin identification (protected designation of origin, protected geographical indication…) or is protected under article L665-6 of the Rural and Fishing Code. This last article applies to wines, ciders, beers and spirits which are part of the French cultural, culinary or landscape heritage.
Why this matters: A distinction will now have to be made between advertising, which will remain subject to the Health Code requirements, and mere information regarding local terroirs or specific know-how, which, if related to an alcoholic drink protected by the Rural and Fishing Code or having a quality or origin identification, will be permitted. It is believed that the content covered by the new text will have to be neutral, using simple images, representations or descriptions.
For example, the new bill will allow the use of information of a touristic or journalistic nature, enabling it to avoid being branded alcohol advertising just because it refers to an alcohol related item.