Should advertisements for McDonald's fries be banned?
Le Journal du Dimanche
, Barbara Pompili would like to regulate, or even ban, commercials on television for products harmful to health or the environment.
This text would include among others fast foods, Nutella, cars with heat engines too polluting ...
Is such a project feasible?
And what problems does it raise?
In a few months, will we still see TV commercials with kids happy to spread Nutella on bread or the McDonald's slogan “Come as you are”?
These ads, among others, may well disappear according to our colleagues at JDD.
The Minister of Ecology Barbara Pompili has studied a law aimed at controlling, or even prohibiting, advertisements for products deemed harmful to the environment or to health.
In the line of sight, therefore, junk food, fast foods, cars with heat engines particularly polluting and therefore the most famous of spreads.
If it were to be successful, the impact of such a project on our consumption is not a shadow of a doubt for Marcel Botton, founder and deputy managing director of the Nomen advertising marketing agency: “It is a Obviously, otherwise we wouldn't bother to advertise.
Advertising works, we don't always know how or why, but it does.
When a product is banned from advertising, at the beginning its sales may increase by buzz, but in the long term, the decline is felt, as we have seen in particular for tobacco.
Efficiency certainly, but where is the objectivity?
Marie-Eve Laporte, lecturer in food consumption at IAE Paris-Sorbonne, indicates that many studies have demonstrated the influence of advertising on food consumption, and particularly on what the Anglo-Saxons call HFSS ,
High Fat, Salt, Sugar
: products that are too fatty, too salty or too sweet.
It is on its viability more than on its effectiveness that Barbara Pompili's bill leaves us skeptical.
“We cannot arbitrarily ban a brand, we need objective criteria,” tempers Marcel Botton, amused by reading in the
of a ban on Nutella or fast food: “A fast food is what?
Do our French ham and butter sandwiches count as fast food?
If not, what's the difference?
What is harmful in fast food?
The simplicity of the tobacco ban
Admittedly, we were able to ban tobacco advertising, “but the situation was simple and clear: we absolutely banned all tobacco products, period.
"To prohibit only Nutella for example and save other spreads, it would be necessary to define what is prevented in Nutella:" Palm oil?
But other products do.
The sugar level?
He is far from the only one.
“Marcel Botton also recalls that Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology in 2015, had already wanted to tackle the spread.
She will turn back… two days after her declaration, for lack of having found concrete arguments to defend this brand, and only the brand.
As for the brutal idea of removing all advertising of spreads, "we must still justify the basis on which advertising of this product is prohibited," he recalls.
Another limitation of the reasoning: the consequences for industry, already observed, for example, with the French alcohol and wine markets.
“It would probably be the same for the French automobile for example, or certain food brands,” prophesies Bénédicte Laurent, founder of Namae Concept and specialist in brand names and identity.
The fear of a market without new competition
The ban, if it happens, would only affect television.
Ads could therefore continue to thrive in other spaces, especially digital ones.
Far from being good news for Marie-Eve Laporte: “All studies show that digital advertising has an even greater impact, especially on children.
Consumers, especially very young, spend more time on digital screens and there is more attention.
Finally, in the “fanciful” hypothesis where all advertising of spreads are prohibited, for example, Marcel Botton announces: Nutella would reign supreme in the market.
“A spread that is more organic, more eco-responsible, less harmful to health could not emerge, for lack of promotions.
The consumer would stick to what he knows, ”he announces.
Once again, the tobacco precedent shows the example: it is the brands already installed at the time of advertising that are still successful, and no news has really broken through.
The illusion of free will
Still in the draft stage, the measure has already made many dissatisfied and angry comments.
Why such vehemence?
Bénédicte Laurent points to the somewhat particular context of this year 2020: “With the question of the obligation of the mask and of confinement, we already have the impression of a hyperintrusive State which knows better than us what we should not do for our good.
Let's say the decision to go after advertising falls into bad timing.
Consumers also tend to believe they are less receptive to TV commercials than they really are.
For Marcel Botton, “there is a certain coquetry in thinking that we have free will, but advertising influences us a lot, a fortiori because we underestimate its effects”.
A good for a good
The project thus seems relevant for its effectiveness on the consumer, but perhaps even more because it could initiate a change in practices in the food industry.
“Banning the advertising of harmful products is less likely to oppress consumers than it is forcing brands to accelerate their transformation to healthier products so that they can continue to be exposed on television.
Brands must adapt in order to survive, just like human beings, ”enthuses Bénédicte Laurent.
Marie-Eve Laporte concludes: “State intervention on harmful products is a good thing.
The ban on advertising would only be a new step, after the nutriscore or the spots on the five fruits and vegetables per day.
We elect deputies to help us with everyday problems, today the environment and junk food are two huge problems in our societies.
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