Legalise Political Ads, Cry French Execs

30 May 2002

The French government is under pressure from representatives of the nation’s ad, media and political sectors to overturn a longstanding law banning paid-for political advertising before elections.

A dozen editors, agency executives and political strategists have put their names to a full-page editorial in French daily newspaper Libération, claiming that allowing such ads would help breathe life into France’s under-fire election process and counterbalance the growing influence of TV news.

Under current law, politicians are forbidden from purchasing ad space in traditional media in the four months before an election. Candidates – and the image strategists they increasingly employ – therefore rely on outdoor ads, the free time provided by state-owned media and the exposure gained by appearing on television news.

The Libération editorial claims voters would benefit if candidates were allowed to use all media, as they would compel politicians to introduce ideas into the “political marketplace”.

Among the signatories was Jacques Seguela of Euro RSCG (the S in RSCG, no less), one of the team behind Lionel Jospin’s unsuccessful campaign in the recent presidential elections. Jospin’s surprise failure to reach the final round – losing out to far right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen – prompted accusations by opponents of political advertising that Seguela tried to “sell a politician as if he was a yoghurt.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff