Who: The French Advertising Regulator (the ARPP)
When: 26 March 2020
Law stated as at: 30 March 2020
The ARPP has published an article reminding consumers to be extra cautious that operators do not take advantage of the current health crisis and exploit it for misleading purposes.
In particular, ARPP has warned that some brands may be tempted to oversell the properties of a product or service. This particularly applies to products such as food supplements and home delivery services, with the following examples of potential misleading adverts given:
- A health product being sold as increasing immunity, for example being described as a “real shield” which can “protect the whole family in addition to the recommended barrier measures“, is likely, in addition to the fact that claims may be misleading, to be considered a play on consumers’ fears.
- A home meal delivery service indicating that its preparation processes are “particularly safe“, which might suggest that other competitors are not adopting its measures.
The French authority points out that this type of communication is in breach of the provisions of the ICC Code on Advertising and Commercial Communications, in particular Article 2, Social Responsibility, which states that: “Commercial communication, unless there is a justifiable reason, must prohibit any exploitation of feelings of fear, bad luck or suffering“.
Why this matters:
In this unprecedented health context, which may be distressing for consumers, the ARPP has issued a strong reminder that communication must remain first and foremost responsible and must under no circumstances take advantage of this situation through misleading advertising.
The ARPP is encouraging companies to ensure that their communications: promote and develop solidarity; help ease the confinement period; and promote the good practices of the Ministry of Solidarity and Health, in particular through the hashtag #stayathome.