What are the regulations on press advertising?

The press medium allows for precise targeting: according to a centre of interest, a location or even a profession... In fact, thanks to advertising in the press, you can reach your consumers in several ways and increase your sales or develop your reputation. But be careful, there are still some regulations to follow for press advertising? We explain.

The press in a few figures :

  • 417 million: this is the number of copies of newspapers and magazines sold in their digital versions in 2021, an increase of 19.2% over one year.
  • The press will represent 8.1 million copies distributed each day in 2021

Source: ACPM

étude ACPM presse publicitaire

Crédit photo : ACPM

Two types of press topped the rankings in this study* published by the ACPM: the magazine press with 38% and the PQR (Presse Quotidienne Régionale) with 37%. These two types of press are followed by the national daily press with 15%.

*Study on the distribution and circulation of the French press controlled over the year 2021

Summary of the article: What are the regulations on press advertising?

  1. Reminder of press advertising formats
  2. Who decides on advertising in the press?
  3. What are the regulations for advertising by sector of activity in the written press?
  4. Some examples of original press advertising

Reminder of press advertising formats

Before getting to the heart of the matter, we would like to remind you of the different advertising formats that exist in the press.

Here are the main formats:

  • Double page
  • Full page
  • 1/2 height - or width
  • 1/3 height - or width
  • ¼ height - or width
  • 1/8 height - or width

And other formats that you can find :

  • The additional insert booklet
  • The 1st cover jumper
  • The multi-page insert

>>> Learn more about press advertising formats.

Who decides on press advertising?

Unlike TV advertisements, which must be validated in advance by the ARPP (Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité), in press advertising, it is the advertising agencies and their legal departments that decide whether or not an advertisement will be broadcast. They then ensure that the advertisements are in line with the editorial line of the press title.

>>> Are you interested in advertising in the regional daily press? Go to our website to get an online quote!

Well ... figures and knowledge are interesting, but we have something even better for the rest of this article! We explain all the advertising regulations in the press by sector of activity.

What are the regulations on advertising by sector in the print media?

Contrary to what one might think, advertising regulations in the press are not identical to those in TV or billboards. In the press, advertising is essentially managed by the advertising agencies (explained above). However, there are some areas where restrictions are needed, and we explain.

The food sector has advertising regulations

As with all other media, food advertisements must include the following mandatory legal information:

  • "For your health, eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day 
  • "For your health, practice regular physical activity". 
  • "For your health, avoid eating too much fat, too much sugar and too much salt". 
  • "For your health, avoid snacking between meals".

In billboards, it is compulsory to display these 4 mentions on the entire network of advertising panels. Thus, on a network of 40 faces for example, there must be 10 posters with the first statement, 10 posters with the second statement, etc. This is not at all the same regulation in the press, since only one of these mentions is required on the visual. 

>>> Learn more about display advertising regulations.

publicité presse paques

In this press advertisement, which ran from 22 March to 4 April 2022, the Picard brand can be seen to have mentioned "For your health, eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day".

Here is another example of a food brand using mandatory statements in its advertising campaigns:

publicité presse alimentation

Here, the phrase "For your health, avoid snacking between meals" appears in this print ad.

Advertising regulations in the alcohol sector

The Evin law allows alcohol advertising in the print media, but there are some nuances to be aware of before publishing your advertising campaign.

It is not forbidden to publish an advertisement concerning the alcohol sector in the press. However, there are rules that must be respected! Article L. 3323-2 of the Public Health Code (CSP) informs us that advertising campaigns for the promotion of alcohol must not appear in magazines intended for young people.

In addition, an advertisement for the sale of alcohol must include the following compulsory statement: "Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health, consume in moderation".

A very original Kronenbourg advertisement marked Euro 2016 in the magazine L'Équipe :

publicité presse alcool

The words "Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health, consume in moderation" were indeed present on this advertisement.

Advertising regulations in the finance sector

In the financial sector, advertisements should not include visuals. They should appear in text form only.

In addition, advertisements in the finance sector must include :

  • The clear presentation of the characteristics of the product and the offer being promoted
  • The benefits promoted and the conditions of the offer to benefit from them
  • The justification of arguments in favour of the local economy or sustainable development in communications promoting actions in this field
  • Access for the consumer to additional information on the distinctions obtained by the product offered

Here is an example of a press announcement by the Boursorama Banque brand:

publicité presse boursorama banque

On Monday 4 April 2022, Boursorama Banque signed a definitive partnership agreement with ING and they both wished to communicate this collaboration in the national press.

Regulations for legal notices

Publication in a legal gazette (JAL) is compulsory for companies when they take steps to set up, change or wind up their business. They must be published in an authorised JAL in the department where the company has its registered office.

Who is concerned by this obligation?

All companies such as SARLs, SAs, SASs, etc. are obliged to publish a legal notice in an authorised newspaper to announce all events in the life of their company.

Craftsmen and traders (under the status of sole proprietorships) are not concerned by the publication of legal notices.

In english: watch out for press ads with English words

All advertisements must be written in French, or have a translation, and the Toubon law says so! In a foreign language campaign, a clearly visible asterisk must refer to the French translation.

Numerous advertisements are withdrawn each year by the ARPP after having noted the presence of English words, for example, that are not translated into French.

Several advertisers use terms such as "by" or "and" without necessarily translating them, which is prohibited. Here is an example:

publicité presse anglais français

The word "by" appears in the visual but no translation is readable: the press advertisement is therefore prohibited.

An advertising campaign in the press is often accompanied by a TV ad. Find out all the TV regulations to make sure you are ready for your next advertisement!

Some examples of original press advertising

And to finish this article on a fun note, here is a small top of the advertisements in the written press:

The first ad we selected is an ad from an optician promoting his pairs of prescription glasses. An advertising campaign with images of expressionist paintings, such as Van Gogh's self-portrait, with eyeglasses that make the artist's portrait more visible.

publicité presse opticien

A creative and humorous way of communicating to promote on the brand's website keloptic.com.

We continue with another campaign that appeared in the press (also on TV and digital) for the car brand Renault to develop their sales on the second hand market by creating the Renew range.

publicité presse renault

Photographer Emir Haveric took these colourful shots for the print campaign. These photos combine the aesthetics of fashion and the automobile to highlight Renault vehicles and the associated guarantees.

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