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In France, the advertising self-regulatory organization (ARPP) rules’  implementation is handled by an independent authority called the « Jury de déontologie publicitaire » (JDP) via consumers’ complaints (including accredited associations such as the national association of alcohol and addiction prevention).

Through the complaints’ mechanism the Jury controls advertisings’ conformity with ARPP‘s Codes of practice and can prohibit non-compliant advertisings.

Thus, the Jury is only competent for questions related with breaches of codes of practice and not of law as the judge is the relevant authority that should be contracted.

As a consequence, the Jury exclusively rules on advertisings’ conformity with the Codes published by ARPP, general principles of the Consolidated ICC Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice and commitments published by interprofessional organisms and co-signed by ARPP.

Similarly, the Advertising Standard Authority in the United Kingdom, the « Jury d’Ethique publicitaire » in Belgium or the Advertising Standards Bureau in Australia only apply the Advertising Codes of Practice, which are written by the national advertising self-regulatory organizations. Their work includes acting on complaints and proactively checking the media to take action against misleading, harmful or offensive advertisements breaching Alcohol Advertising Codes of Practice.

In France the specificity is that ARPP’s Alcohol Code, in its part called « Advertising – Indications and references allowed », refers to provisions of article L. 3323-4 of the French legal Code of Public Health, providing implicitly its respect. This reference to a legal provision necessarily implies that Jury’s analyse is related with advertisings’ conformity with these provisions, as interpreted by case-law.

However, while the Jury restrictively interprets the legal provisions it refers to, its rulings appear to steer against judge’s interpretation.

For instance, the La Goulade Beer ad’s claim « de l’amitié à partager » (friendship to share) was recently deemed by the Jury not to comply with ARPP’s Alcohol Code referring to the above mentioned law and therefore was prohibited in France (JDP’s ruling, 2nd April 2014, La Goulade – 299/14).

At the meantime, the judge uses a more flexible interpretation of a « compliant advertising » with regard to French legal Code of Public Health reminding that advertising can present alcohol in a positive light and in an attractive manner to provoke a desire to consume (The Appeal Court of Versailles 3e ch., 3rd April 2014, ANPAA/CIVB).

In fact, the Jury is another avenue of redress for complainant and it has a significant scope of authority to control Alcohol Advertisings’ validity ruling in favour of a strict interpretation of legal provisions which are originally severe.

Under these circumstances, before entering French market importers should obtained professional advice on their advertising campaigns for alcoholic beverages.

Par Annabella BIFFI et Jean-Baptiste THIAL DE BORDENAVE

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