The French advertising self-regulatory system is second only to the UK’s in terms of the respect and authority it commands in Europe. Will the “BVP”‘s recent initiatives see it pull out of the ASA’s slipstream and take the lead? Claire Bouchenard updates us from Paris.
Who: Bureau de Vérification de la Publicité, BVP
When: December 2007
Law stated as at: 18 January 2008
Sustainable development and ecologic concerns have pushed French advertising agencies and advertisers to set up new bodies and rules and to strengthen controls for 2008.
New stakeholder council
First, the French self-regulatory Office for Verification of Advertising ( the Bureau de Vérification de la Publicité or "BVP") has set up an Advertising Stakeholder Council (Conseil Paritaire de la Publicité, or "CPP"), composed of members from the advertising industry, non governmental organisations and consumer associations. It will be called upon to participate in the development or modification of ethical standards and will publish nonbinding opinions. According to the BVP, two important concessions have been granted: the chairman of the CPP will be from the voluntary sector and its advice will be made public.
New "Ethics Jury"
The BVP also wished to strengthen its control system, while making its procedures more transparent and impartial. For this reason, has been created an Advertising Ethics Jury (Jury de l'Ethique Publicitaire or "JEP") in charge of dealing with complaints about advertisements which may contravene Ethics rules. It will be composed of experts proposed jointly by the CPP, the board of directors of BVP and the Advertising Ethics Council of the BVP. The decisions of JEP will also be made public. As for campaigns that are criticised, the JEP may request their suspension.
Furthermore, advertisers have accepted that any environmental claims they make will be the subject of systematic consultation with professionals before dissemination of any national campaign, whatever the medium (not only TV).
The BVP also plan to sign a "Targets and Commitments Charter" with the Ecology and Sustainable Development Ministry, which will give rise to an annual public report related to the behaviour of the advertising sector.
New "Responsible Communications Charter"
Also the French Advertisers' Association (Union des Annonceurs or "UDA") which is a member of BVP, has adopted a Responsible Communication Charter drafted by several sustainable development promoters. It contains five commitments:
- all external communication should be compliant with the codes of responsible communication;
- advertisers should encourage audiences to adopt responsible behaviour,
- advertisers should loyally use their clients' personal data in their marketing and commercial approaches,
- advertisers should establish internal validation procedures for vetting their campaigns before their dissemination,
- advertisers should take into account environmental impacts in their choice of communication tools.
Among the 300 members of UDA, about thirty have already signed the Charter.
Why this matters:
It is going to be impossible to disseminate in France a campaign which would not be "environmentally correct". For instance, it is already not imaginable under a BVP doctrine memo of June 2007, to show in TV ads a car in wilderness, only on authorized highways.