Government infomercials

There are three infomercials (I think that’s the word) playing ad-nauseum on television screens across France at the moment. While at first they appear to have the wider public good at heart, I can’t help but think they’re little more than state propaganda.

The first points out that if you take antibiotics for a viral infection this will not automatically cure you, “Antibiotique est pas automatique” and in fact you may well be better off by not taking antibiotics at all. Er, thanks for the info, but why are they telling us this when it is usually the Doctors who prescribe the antibiotics in the first place? There are two possible explanations: 1. the government and health authorities are genuinely concerned about the number of antibiotic resistant viruses developing across the known world, or 2. the government and health authorities are genuinely concerned about the cost of the number of antibiotic prescriptions they have to pay for each year…. call me cynical – but I think point 2 is probably closest to the truth.

Underlying message: we’re broke!

The second commercial points out that there are alternatives to bread when looking for a carbohydrate intake in your daily diet; potatoes, rice, pulses for example. It’s simply healthier, they say, to mix your consumption of bread with other forms of carbs. There can be no doubt that this ad is designed to directly tackle the widespread complaint of reduced ‘buying power’ across France. The government have clearly identified the most costly and inflation-prone commodity – bread – and so are keen to point out that if people stopped including such expensive things in their ‘staple diet’ then perhaps there would be a few more pennies in the bank at the end of the month, and less to complain about. I think it was Marie Antoinette who last came up with a similar solution?

Underlying message: stop whining!

Last, and perhaps most amusing of all is the ad that encourages employers to hire French people. This indicates to me that there is a concern that French employers are now more likely to hire foreign workers on the basis that they know they can far more easily get rid of them than if they hired someone French. While hiring French might be better for the economy (as the ad points out) – it fails to recognise that hiring someone French (in the French system) is often bad for business.

Underlying message: we have no idea how to change employment law without pissing everyone off!


  1. That last one sounds racist and possibly illegal to me? Surely the government shouldn’t be encouraging employers to employ people of one nationality/ race over another?? (esp as EU citizens can work where they like).

  2. There is a law against it, but how many foreigners do you know who have won a job against a French person, unless it is specifically because they have a particular language skill etc?

  3. About antibiotics: there is a widespread campaign against constant use of antibiotics in Canada which is directed at the public (who pays out of pocket for pharmaceuticals). I think it has more to do with people insisting to their doctors that they be prescribed _something_ when they are feeling crummy and their doctors giving in just to get rid of them than anything else. So, maybe France genuinely wants to ammeliorate a public health issue?

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