Recommendations of the ARPP of 3 April 2017

In a context where influencers’ content and communications are expanding internationally and in quite diverse ways, the French Advertising Professional Regulatory Authority (ARPP – Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité) recently published new recommendations in relation with influencers’ content, statements and publications.

The Authority first provides its own definition of what an “influencer” is. It defines it as any individual who expresses a point of view or provides advice, in a specific field, according to their own style or way of processing, and whose audience identifies.

It then specifies that an influencer can act either within a purely editorial frame, or in collaboration with a brand for the publication of content (product placement, participation to content production, publication of content of advertising nature, etc.).

The ARPP then gives two general recommendations to apply when influencers collaborate with brands.

First, if an influencer generally enters into a commercial collaboration with an advertiser for the purpose of publishing content, the existence of such a collaboration should be brought to the public’s attention.

Second, if the content/statements published by the influencer pursuant to this collaboration are qualified as of advertising nature, then all other ARPP ethical rules should be applied.

What is interesting to note is that the Authority considers that this advertising nature is qualified when 3 criteria are met:

  • The content is produced in the frame of reciprocal undertakings, i.e. the publication of the influencer’s content/statement is in consideration for a payment or any other type of compensation (including the provision of products or services to their benefit);
  • The advertiser or its representatives are granted prominent editorial control (e.g. imposing a script, a speech, etc.) and a prior approval right over the content before publication; and
  • The content of the influencer’s statement promotes products or services (e.g. verbal or visual presentation for promotional purposes).

Finally, the ARPP provides indications on how to identify influencer communications that are produced in the frame of a collaboration with a brand. It recommends to explicitly indicate said collaboration, in order for this characteristic to immediately appear to the public. The identification can be done by any applicable means: within the statements itself, in a text accompanying the content, mentioned during the video, etc.

These first French recommendations in relation with influencer content and communications are an important starting point in the establishment of a legal regime applicable to these new actors and new types of publications. They can quite easily be qualified as of advertising nature, which may entail the application of different legal provisions.