French Ad Body Issues New Portrayal of Women Guidelines

18 October 2001

The Bureau de Vérification de la Publicité, the principal French self-regulatory ad body, has issued new standards for the representation of “human images” in advertising, in a bid to answer mounting criticism of the industry’s portrayal of women.

The BVP’s new guidelines replace weak standards on “the image of women” drawn up in 1975 and routinely flouted by the industry. They demand that ads “respect human dignity”, insisting that “degrading” or “humiliating” portrayals of people be rejected.

Clients and agencies have been under fire in recent months from government officials and feminist organisations over the use of explicitly sexual imagery in ads – known in France as ‘porno chic’. Such themes were particularly evident in the marketing of luxury goods and fashion brands.

The domination or exploitation of men and women is now considered beyond the pale, as is the trivialisation of violence and the use of sexual, social or racial stereotypes.

However, nudity – frequently used in French ads, especially for cosmetics and hygiene brands – is still allowed under the code, so long as it is not “degrading” or “alienating” to viewers.

The BVP, whose approval is needed for all TV advertising, agreed to review its code following a series of parliamentary hearings earlier in the year.

News source: AdAge Global