Translation with SYSTRAN Links

Commercial communications on television: publicity, sponsorship, placement of product, etc

Is it normal to see advertisements for the electronic cigarette?

Not. The law of modernization of our health care system of January 26th, 2016 prohibited, since May 20th, 2016, any publicity for the electronic cigarette (apart from that presents in the places of sale).

How is it made that there is publicity on the services of “replay”? The programs were however already diffused.

Services of audio-visual mediums to the request (of which the services of replay) propose a free access with audio-visual contents. The recourse to publicity takes part not only in the financing and the development of these services but also in their contribution to the sector of audio-visual and cinematographic creation.

The decree n°2010-1379 of November 12th, 2010 relating to the services of audio-visual mediums to the request fixes the obligations of the editors of these services, in particular the provisions envisaged in its chapter III (articles 14 to 18), relating to publicity, sponsorship and armchair shopping.

This decree does not prohibit the diffusion of publicity imposed on the beginning of the watching and the quantity does not limit any. It is thus not possible for the CSA to intervene on the practice to impose the visionnage of an advertisement before that of the program on a service of audio-visual media on the request.

On the other hand, article 14 of this decree prohibits the diffusion of advertisements during certain programs of which the duration is lower than thirty minutes. It is the tv news, of the news magazines, the religious emissions and the emissions for children.

How the CSA can let diffuse as many advertisements to television?

The time devoted to the advertisements on television is framed by several legal texts: the decree of March 27th, 1992 on the mode applicable to publicity and sponsorship (article 15), the specifications of the missions and of the public channels and conventions of the private channels. These texts indicate the limit within which the advertisements can be programmed. 

The CSA makes sure in particular of the respect, by the chains, of these limits. Financed mainly by the contribution to the audio-visual public (new name of the royalty), the public channels (France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5, France Ô in particular) are not authorized to resort to publicity as much as the private channels: on France 2 and France 3, for example, publicity cannot be higher than six minutes per hour on average daily, without being able to exceed eight minutes for a hour given. It is prohibited after 8 p.m. (only the “generic” sponsorships and advertisements are allowed). On the private channels, the daily average duration of advertisements is of new minutes per hour, but these chains can diffuse up to twelve minutes of publicity for a hour given.

How is the control of publicity exerted?

The CSA has the role of controlling the object, the contents and the methods of programming of the advertisements. This control is carried out a posteriori since 1993. In the event of diffusion of a message nonin conformity with the laws and payments in force, the CSA can intervene with the diffusers to ask for the dead halt of the countryside or to prohibit all new diffusion.
To avoid the difficulties which a campaign considered to be nonin conformity with the regulation would raise, the advertisers and the advertising agencies subject their message, before his diffusion, with the professional Regulatory authority of publicity (ARPP, e.g. Office of checking of publicity), an interprofessional association of self-discipline, which gives an opinion on the compatibility of this project with the texts. This opinion does not bind the diffusers which can pass in addition to but it can make it possible to the interested parties to avoid infringing the legislative measures, lawful or ethical. He, in practice, is almost systematically claimed by the advertising agencies of the television services.
Televised publicity and sponsorship are governed by the decree n°92-280 of March 27th, 1992.
Publicity is defined like “any form of diffused televised message subject to remuneration or another counterpart in sight is to promote the supply of goods or services, including those which are presented under their generic name, within the framework of a marketing activity, industrial, artisanal or of liberal profession, that is to say to ensure the sales promotion of a public enterprise or private. This definition does not include the direct offers with the public for the sale, of the purchase or the lease of products or for the supply of services subject to remuneration“.
Sponsorship is “very contribution of a company or a public or deprived legal person or a natural person, not carrying on activities of edition of television services or audio-visual mediums with the request or of production of audio-visual works, with the financing of television services or programs with an aim of promoting its name, its brand, its image or its activities”.
The most frequent interventions of the CSA relate to cases of clandestine publicity and failures to the rules of sponsorship.
Clandestine publicity is prohibited. It is “the verbal or visual presentation of goods, services, the name, the brand or the activities of a producer of goods or a service provider in programs, when this presentation is made with an advertising aim”.
 According to the importance of the noted failure and its repetition, the Council can:
 - to write with the diffuser to draw its attention to a failure noted on its antenna,
 - to put in residence to respect the regulation,
 - in the most serious cases, to initiate a procedure of sanction which can in particular lead to the delivery of a pecuniary penalty.

Why does one still find publicity on the chains of France Televisions?

Since January 5th, 2009, the chains of France Televisions (France 3 excluded Areas, where the diffusion of advertisements is authorized by article 53-VI of the law of September 30th, 1986) should not diffuse any more 8 p.m. commercial advertisements at 6 o'clock in the morning. Televiewers, for the majority satisfied with this reform, are astonished however by the presence after 20 hours of sequences which they compare to publicity. 
It acts by way of messages of general interest (within the framework of the information campaigns of the administrations on subjects such as the road safety, the fight against alcoholism, as well as messages of charitable organizations), generic advertisements (to promote apple, dairy products, etc) or mentions of sponsorships of emissions.
These three categories of messages are not aimed by the reform of the public channels and can thus continue to be diffused.
A decree of March 27th, 1992 fixes the rules framing the publicity, the sponsorship and the armchair shopping, which are applicable to all the TV channels. According to this decree, is described as “publicity” any form of televised message diffused subject to remuneration in order to promote goods or services or to ensure the sales promotion of a company or of a legal person or physics. On the other hand, is regarded as concerning sponsorship any contribution of a company or a legal person or physique to the financing of television programs in order to promote its name, its brand, its image or its activities.
This decree imposes that the sponsored emissions are clearly identified like such. They are these mentions of sponsorship, present at the credits of the emissions and recalled in the trailers, which are sometimes confused with publicity.


Consult the decree of March 27th, 1992 on publicity, sponsorship and armchair shopping. 

Why does one see as much publicity during the films and the televised series?

The law of March 5th, 2009 relating to the audio-visual communication and the new public service of television gave to the TV channels the possibility of proceeding to two advertising breaks during the diffusion of a cinematographic work or audio-visual. This provision aims at ensuring a better circulation of advertising flows within the framework of the reform of the audio-visual public, by harmonizing our national law with the EU law. 
Anxious to preserve the comfort of the televiewers, the CSA specified the methods of application of this provision, by requiring that one period of at least twenty minutes be observed between two successive interruptions, that it is about a cinematographic, audio-visual work (constitutive, or not, of a series, a serial or documentary) or of a program intended for youth.
In addition, the advertising break of a cinematographic work cannot exceed 6 minutes. 

However, diffusion of a audio-visual or cinematographic work by France Televisions, and that of a cinematographic work by the television services of cinema can be the object of no advertising break.

Why the letter P appear does in bottom on the right of the screen during the diffusion of certain televised programs?

The letter P placed in bottom on the right of the TV screen means that the diffused emission resorts to the placement of product. The placement of product is defined, according to the terms of the European directive in force, like “any form of audio-visual commercial communication consisting in including a product, a service or a brand, or referring there, while inserting it in a program, realising payment or another counterpart” (article 1st (m) of the directive 2010/13/UE).
The Council defined its methods of use as well as methods of information of the televiewer in an adopted deliberation on February 16th, 2010 (and modified by a deliberation of July 24th, 2012).

Consult the topic devoted to the placement of product.

Is the placement of product authorized in France in the television programs?

The placement of product is a form of audio-visual commercial communication consisting in including a product, a service or a brand, or referring there, while inserting these elements in a program, realising payment or another counterpart.
Transposing the European directive Services of audio-visual mediums of December 11th, 2007, the law of March 5th, 2009 relating to the audio-visual communication and the new public service of television introduced the possibility for the TV channels of resorting to the placement of product in some their programs and under certain conditions.
The CSA received competence to fix the conditions under which the programs of the chains of television can comprise placement of product. On February 16th, 2010, it adopted a deliberation on this subject, modified on certain points by a deliberation of July 24th, 2012.

On television consult the topic devoted to the placement of product.

Frequently asked questions on the placement of product and clandestine publicity

The Council is regularly solicited by television services, production companies, as well as advertising agencies or of placement of product in connection with the regulations in force, in particular on the formal requirements of the placement of product and the criteria of appreciation of the Council on the qualification of a sequence in clandestine publicity.

The Trade union of the independent producers (SPI), then the Guild of the screenwriters, the Group 25 Images and the Confederation of the audio-visual producers (CPA), seized the Council on the realization of a practical document relative to these sets of themes. They joined to their sasine a list of relative questions to situations with which the producers and the authors are confronted.

To accompany the answers to these questions, it is useful to point out the doctrines of the Council relating to clandestine publicity, as well as the provisions envisaged in the deliberation of the Council of February 16th, 2010, modified by that of July 24th, 2012, relating to the placement of product in the programs of the television services.

Recall of the rules relating to the prohibition of clandestine publicity

A publicity is described as clandestine when goods, services or brands are presented, apart from the advertising screens and this, with a “advertising aim”, i.e. with an aim not of informing, but of promoting. Thus article 9 of the decree n° 92-280 of March 27th, 1992 lays out that clandestine publicity is prohibited. (…) constitute a clandestine publicity the verbal or visual presentation of goods, services, name, brand or activities of a producer of goods or a service provider in programs, when this presentation is made with an advertising aim “. This practice is regularly sanctioned by the CSA.

The Council does not have to bring the proof that promotion was done subject to remuneration nor in an intentional way. It returns to him individually to appreciate the various practices detected on the antennas and to possibly intervene when one of those appears litigious to him taking into consideration rule pointed out above.

It has for this purpose of a beam indices, among which appear the absence of plurality in the presentation of the goods, services or brands, the kindness displayed towards such or such product, the frequency of the quotation and/or the visualization of the product or the brand, or the absence of any critical glance. Other criteria can punctually be retained.

Any reference in emissions to goods or services is thus not systematically constitutive of clandestine publicity. This qualification depends on the way in which the product, the service or the brand appear.

Let us recall finally that the Council is not qualified to prejudge conformity of an emission before its diffusion. The indications which follow are subject to the appreciation of the Council individually.

In the situations presented below, which are examples of scenes of fiction, it is considered that no contract of placement of product was concluded:


  • "In are a general way, at the time of external plans at the time of demonstrations on the public highway for example, or in a car or in public transport, the brands or products present in outside without that making the object of a contract and a commercial exchange prohibited?”

The floutage of the brands does not seem necessary in this kind of situation, insofar as the brands are only interviews and that a certain plurality is assured. That is worth so much for documentary than for a fiction, the preoccupation with a realism being prevalent in this last kind. The fact of seeing some brands at the time of external plans seems to be the strict reflection of reality. It is nevertheless necessary to specify that the visible brands and products must appear in a way short and not repeated, and that this kind of plans must be well justified by the scenario.

  • “In the same way, in documentary on the universe of the sport:

 - one follows the training of sportsmen with their equipment which reveals a certain number of logos, without that being the object of a commercial exchange;

 the Tour de France is filmed (without there being commercial exchange with the various sponsors present at this demonstration). How to treat these visualizations and quotations of brands? »

In the first case, if the brands are clearly identifiable with the screen, there exists a risk of clandestine publicity. Nevertheless, the Council is aware that it is difficult to avoid the visualization of brands on the behaviours of the sportsmen in this kind of documentary. He thus appreciates individually.

In the case of the Tour de France, the visualization of the brands is allowed on the runners, like at the time as of catches of sights of the “ caravan of the Turn ”, since it is not possible to film the course of this sports event without showing the runners equipped with the colors with their sponsors. Nevertheless, their evocation with the antenna should not be obliging and it must be the object of a pluralist presentation. Moreover, the Council remains very attentive with the contents of the made remarks which should not cover promotional aspect.

  • “In a documentary history on Coco Chanel, are the Peugeot family, the family Taittinger etc, which the rules which make it possible to consider that one is not in a situation of clandestine publicity? »

Certain reports are interested in the history of families of industrialists or artists, whose notoriety is large to the televiewers. The name of these families is often associated with that of a brand name. These reports are generally devoted to the history of these families and not to the characteristics of the products or services which are marketed by their brand. Any reference in emissions to goods or services is not excluded, since it is of a nature of information as well as a critical approach. The Council remains vigilant on the contents of this kind of report, which must be carried out under an angle informative and free from any obliging aspect. Thus, there cannot be of promotional size under penalty of constituting a clandestine publicity.

Concerning the evocation of an alcohol brand, the diffuser must be attentive with the risk to contravene the public health code. This last prohibits any publicity or propaganda in favour of alcoholic beverages on television.

  • “In documentary on the plants, one explains the impermeable properties of the sheet of lotus and the use, for example, of these properties to develop an impermeable painting whose brand is quoted and a pot of painting shown with the mention “lotus effect”. As regards documentary, there is of course no commercial exchange “.

The fact that this brand of painting is the object of such an exposure could make it identifiable by the televiewers, as well on the level of the quotation of the brand as on the level of the visualization of the product. Another problematic factor seems to be the absence of evocation of another concurrent brand. An obliging presentation of this brand of painting would be likely to constitute a clandestine publicity. The Council would be thus founded to intervene.

  • “In documentary, prisoners are filmed inside their cell, one sees appearing on the screen a pot of chicory and brands and logos of hot drinks as well as the brands of the clothing worn by the prisoners”.

In the exposed case, the floutage does not seem necessary if the logos of the brands are discrete and are not the object of a close-up. However, if the presence of brands is too marked, when well even a certain plurality would be assured, the Council would be founded to intervene on the base of clandestine publicity. For recall, if the floutage is regularly a practice used by the chains, the Council does not impose necessarily this solution.

Recall of the rules relating to the placement of product

The production of a product, a service or a brand can intervene within the framework of a placement of product. This practice is authorized since 2009 in the audio-visual cinematographic works, fictions and the vidéomusiques ones (except when they are intended to the children), under the conditions defined by the deliberation of the Council of February 16th, 2010 (modified on July 24th, 2012). The placement of product made it possible to bring more realism to works and of freedom of creation to the authors.

The situations presented below are likely to comprise a placement of product:

  • “In a fiction, the brand of a deckchair for baby appears. Does that contravene the rules concerning child protection? »

A brand of deckchair for baby can resort to the placement produced in a audio-visual fiction, except if it is about an intended program to the children. In this case, it will be necessary to take care of the compliance with the rules fixed in the deliberation of the Council relating to the placement of product.

If there is no contract of placement of product, vigilance remains concerning the risks of clandestine publicity in favour of this brand. Thus, the name of the brand and/or its logo, could appear only in a discrete, short and not repeated way.

  • “How to apprehend the question of the brands in a fiction which proceeds completely in a service station? »

This project can appear delicate to carry out. It is however possible to resort to the placement of product, by taking care to observe the conditions fixed by the deliberation of the Council which provides that the programs which comprise some do not have to be influenced so as to attack the responsibility and to the leading independence of the editor, should not incite directly with the purchase or with the hiring of the products or services of a third, cannot comprise promotional references in particular and do not have to propose the products or services placed in an unjustified way.

In the case of a placement of product in a fiction proceeding in a commercial place like a service station, it is recommended to remain particularly vigilant so that this brand is not omnipresent in work, so much on the level as of visual references than of the oral mentions.

  • “A killer in escape buys a newspaper in a kiosk. The time of a plan, one sees with the screen the one of the Parisian with the photograph of the man and the headlines “.

Such a production of this title of press, without it being put in front of unjustified way, could be acceptable within the framework of a placement of product, subject to the respect of the conditions fixed in the deliberation of the Council of the modified February 16th, 2010.

Apart from a placement of product, this scene would be if necessary likely to be described as clandestine publicity.

  • “In a fiction, in the case of a scene of spinning mill after a steering. A police officer gives a description by radio to his colleagues: “the suspect changed car, it leads from now on one Citroën of black color, registered 92 “.

The fact of replacing a name of brand by a generic designation of the product (for example “ a truck of black color ” instead of “ Citroën ”) is not an obligation, and must be appreciated individually by the director of the fiction, in order to find good balance between precaution with respect to the risk of clandestine publicity and concern of not making the scene artificial.

But it is also possible that this fiction comprises a placement of product in favour of the Citroën car manufacturer, subject to the compliance with the rules of the deliberation of the Council on the matter.

  • “A high-school pupil in love seeks to find a girl met in evening. It finally finds it on Internet and the profile Facebook of the young woman is, the time of a plan, visible with the screen “.

In the situation presented, if the wall of the Facebook page is simply recognizable, that seems acceptable in a preoccupation with a realism of the fiction and does not contravene the prohibition of clandestine publicity. On the other hand, supported visualization, during several seconds, of the page Facebook (which comprises the name of the brand and/or the characteristics which are usually associated to him such as the logo, the graphic charter of the website, etc) could be looked like constitutive of clandestine publicity.

It is also possible to resort to the placement of product.                                                      

Why does one see and on television quotes one social networks and with the radio?

The Superior council of audio-visual defined, on January 3rd, 2013, several recommendations relating to the mention of the social networks in the television programs and radio. They take account of the evolution of the practices, while ensuring compatibility with the regulation of publicity in the interest of the consumers.

Televisions and the radios integrate more and more the social networks in the design of the programs in order to enrich their antennas and to reinforce the interactivity with their public.

The Council admits the personal reference to a social network when it indicates the source of information or a testimony, as well as the reference of the public towards a social network if it is specific and discrete, is not of promotional nature and is free from incentive supported to connect itself.

On the other hand, the insertion of the name of a social network in the title of a program, and the visualization of the registered trademarks by a social network or that of the factors of images and characteristics which are usually associated for him, are contrary with the prohibition of clandestine publicity. Indeed, the social networks are brands exploited by marketing companies and cannot thus derogate from this prohibition in the actual position of the texts.

The recommendations were defined at the end of a careful thought with the professionals: TV channels and of radio, journalists, representatives of social networks.

Why do the chains so often practise the floutage?

The Council asks the chains to be vigilant on the presence of brands to the antenna, but he does not ask to blur them: it is not the visualization of a brand which is prohibited by the regulation, but its presentation with an advertising, practical aim constitutive of clandestine publicity. When the presence of brands finds its justification in the requirements of a report, with exclusively informative vocation, it is perfectly allowed and does not require to in no case the use of the floutage. On the other hand, must be proscribed very development unjustified of a product, a service or a brand.

The Council prefers that the chains differently turn a sequence in which brands could appear with the image. The use of the floutage to mask brands is thus a voluntary approach on behalf of the chains, to avoid being marked to have diffused images likely to concern clandestine publicity.

However, the placement of product from now on being authorized in the audio-visual cinematographic works, fictions and the vidéomusiques ones, of the products and their brand can, under conditions defined by the law and a deliberation of the Council, to appear in all legality in these programs.

Which is the role of the ARPP?

Article 14 of the law of the modified September 30th, 1986 entrusts to the CSA a mission of control on the object, the contents and the methods of programming of the commercial communications diffused by the services of audio-visual communication. This control is exerted, as for the rest of the programs, not before the diffusion of the commercial communications, but at the time of this diffusion.

As regards televised advertisements, the ARPP (professional Regulatory authority of publicity) carries out a control before diffusion, the Council having chosen to control them a posteriori in 1992, in accordance with the principle of liberty and of leading responsibility for the diffusers.

The ARPP, in the past Office of checking of publicity (BVP), are an association governed by the law of July 1st, 1901 , whose mission is “to conduct an action in favour of a honest, veracious and healthy publicity in the interest of the consumers, the public and the professionals of publicity”. It was created by the professionals of publicity in order to set up a structure resting on the self-discipline, was financed and accepted by them, was likely to save possible dispute to them.

This interprofessional organization gathers four categories of members: advertisers, agencies of communication, distribution supports (press, radio, television, posting, cinema, except media) and “members corresponding” (trade unions, law firms, associations, etc).

The ARPP defines ethical rules (“recommendations”) which apply to its members who, voluntarily, commit themselves respecting them. It provides to the professionals a council during the development of the advertisement and into force gives an opinion before diffusion on the conformity of the televised advertisements with the occupational rules and the existing regulation.

As regards televised advertisements, they are examined before their diffusion by the ARPP and the CSA intervenes at the time of their diffusion or after if they prove to be contrary with the laws and decrees like in and the convention schedules of conditions of the diffusers.

Televised sponsorships as well as the radiophonic advertisements and sponsorships are not the object of a systematic prior examination to their diffusion by the ARPP.

Which are the rules which apply for the general interest campaigns?

These campaigns are organized, on the media of public service, by a circular of the Prime Minister of which the last version dated September 20th, 2010 (Olympic Games of September 22nd, 2010).

Their diffusion within the advertising screens is mentioned in article 14 of the decree of March 27th, 1992 relating to publicity, sponsorship and armchair shopping. Their time of antenna is not taken into account by the CSA in his control of the maximum duration of the advertising screens diffused by the chains.

Can messages of comparative advertising be diffused on television?

Televiewers are regularly astonished to see with the antenna of the advertisements comparing the products of a brand with those of a concurrent brand.

The comparative advertising was authorized by the law of January 18th, 1992 relating to the consumer protection, but very strict condition which obliged in particular the advertiser to submit to its competitor its project of publicity, which a long time limited the attraction of this form of communication: until recently, the comparative advertising was not very present at the antenna, fault of advertisers wishing to risk itself there, in fear of see itself trailed in justice by their indicated competitors.

The legislation resulting from the law of January 18th, 1992 was softened by an ordinance of August 23rd, 2001, transposing in French right the Community directive of October 6th, 1997 relating to the comparative advertising. The provisions in force appear in the articles L. 121-8 with L. 121-14 of the Code of consumption.
The comparative advertising is defined there as “any publicity which puts in comparison with goods or services while identifying, implicitly or explicitly, a competitor or goods or services offered by a competitor”.

To be licit, it must answer a certain number of criteria. The message:

  • does not have to be misleading or likely to induce in error: if a campaign is founded on elements which are not veracious or which is likely to induce the consumers in error, the provisions of the article L. 121-1 of the Code of consumption make it possible to sanction the advertiser;
  • must relate to goods or services which meet the same needs or have the same objective; the former regulation authorized the comparison only between goods or services of comparable nature, concept much more restrictive; different products and services but tending to the same goal can from now on be the object of a comparison;
  • must objectively compare one or more characteristics essential, relevant, verifiable and representative of these goods or these services, of which the price can be part.

The comparative advertising should unduly benefit from the notoriety attached to a brand, neither to involve the discredit or the denigration of the brands of a competitor, neither to generate confusion between the advertiser and a competitor, nor to present goods or services like an imitation or a reproduction of a good or a service profiting from a protected brand. It is not authorized, if the product profits from a designation of origin or a protected geographical ascription, that between products profiting from the same name or indication.
On the other hand, the obligation to inform the competitor does not exist any more. 
In spite of these easings, the legal constraints which weigh on the comparative advertising are still strong with the eyes of the advertisers which consider that this form of publicity is source of dispute.
The CSA is not qualified to sanction the ignorance, by the advertisers, of the articles L. 121-8 with L. 121-14 of the Code of consumption. If however it estimated that these provisions were ignored, it could, on the base of article 6 of the decree n° 92-280 of March 27th, 1992 which prohibits the messages comprising of the false allegations or likely to induce in error the consumers, to require editors of services that they déprogramment the litigious publicity campaign. 

Consult the decree of March 27th, 1992 on publicity, sponsorship etle armchair shopping.