Monday, October 11, 2010

French Public Service Announcements

by Andrés Gómez

In order to understand French public service announcements, it is important to understand the purpose of public service announcements in general. Advertising takes the form of an ad or announcement that is transmitted through the radio or television. It can be published or printed in order to reach out to the general public. Public service announcements are a way for state or non-governmental agencies to reach out to the general public to benefit public interest, convey an important social message, or raise public awareness about social issues.

The topics included in public service announcements aim to improve the health, safety, and welfare of the community. Most of the public service announcements are free and non-profitable sponsoring departments or agencies. The most popular agency in France that presents public service announcements is the actual French government and its ministries. The Ministère de la Santé, or Ministry of Health, is one that tends to convey important messages about health. Among its issues are AIDS,the importance of the use of contraceptives, smoking, and exercising or being active.

The following is a public service announcement from France that states “Ce lieu est désormais non-fumeur.” (This place is now non-smoking) From this public service announcement we can see that it depicts the majority of its message through a picture. The plant represents life and the fact that it is in an ashtray shaped vase allows us to compare it to a smoking person. This shows how some public serviceannouncements try to convey their social messages. Pictures are often utilized to reach out to a greater demographic of people. It is not necessary to know perfect French to view the ad; by the picture alone one can understand that smoking kills. I found this announcement in the dorms, indicating that the clear audience tends to be the young and adult audiences.

This public service announcement is located by the Hotel de Ville in Paris. It depicts the importance of getting tested for AIDS. Once again, this announcement is government founded. AIDS awareness became a government issue when there was a problematic increase in the rate of sexually transmitted diseases among the sexually active youth.


This is a public service announcement that promotes the use of contraceptives through a television commercial. Its clear message is at the end: “la meilleure contraception c'est celle que l'on choisit.”(Contraception is the best one we choose). It is clear that this announcement is not trying to promote celibacy, rather a healthy sex life. Social and cultural aspects can be better understood through public service announcements. For example, from this commercial wecan understand that France has a more liberal approach than other nations. It is not common to find such commercials and public service announcements about contraceptive use in more conservative countries. From this commercial, one can observe that the youth is possibly more open about living a healthy sexual life. Sex is depicted as being fun and desirable.

Public service announcements have many purposes.The announcements serve as a good type of propaganda. It helps inform the people about issues that may affect their life directly. It provides a source of information on topics that people tendto ignore. It also gives the common public a resource for obtaining helpful information regarding social issues. These public service announcements also show governmental concern for its people.

Through my investigation, I found that public service announcements are indeed effective in reaching out to the public. The announcements are placed in locations where many young people congregate such as Hotel de Ville, Louvre, and around the Bastille. The announcements are concise and clever in conveying the necessary message. They also have to be catchy and visualize appealing in order to capture one’s attention. I found that the public service announcements present a variety of topics,ranging from education to health. By not being limited to a specific topic, they are able to reach a wider audience.

While exploring Paris to find announcements, I found one for AIDS. It was one that was sponsored by a non-profit organization. This goes on to prove that not all public service announcements are from exclusively government sponsored organizations. After having done my research, I can conclude that public service announcements are a positive aspect of governmental funded ministries. They are informative and tend to offer more than facts. These announcements are a great way for the government and other organizations to reach out to the public. The different sources of media are omnipresent and reach out to the general population very effectively.

PSAs around Paris:

Links to Televised PSAs:

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