Contrary to “the French Paradox” and popular media today, the French are not all thin. In fact, the French are now approaching American statistics on obesity. The invasion of American junk food, such as Coca-Cola, during the 1940s, after the second World War brought along American “propaganda” style advertisements for its products and consumerism. Thus, obesity.
Source: Mail Online
The Institut National de Prévention et d'éducation pour la Santé (INPES) along with the Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Santé launched the Manger Bouger program in January 2001 in France to combat this trend of obesity. A multi-media Programme National Nutrition Santé (PNNS), it incorporates informational videos, print advertisements and online elements. Its general objective is to better the state of well-being of the population as a whole. Nutritional choices and an active lifestyle are the two major determinants of good health.
Source: Manger Bouger
Source: My own pictures
The Manger Bouger campaign shows the beneficial relationship between good public information, in the form of public service announcements (PSA) and marketing and commercial revenue in France.
PSAs are normally separate announcements from other commercials in order to help people recognize the source of information. This is called differentiation. Talcott Parsons (1971:26) defines differentiation as “the division of a unit or structure of a social system into two or more units or structures that differ in their characteristics and functional significance for the system,” and describes “a process of social change from primitive to modern societies as one in which social functions initially fused are separated: politics for example is differentiated from religion and from economics” (Hallin and Mancini, 77). Healthy media markets have good differentiation of information sources that are clear to the audiences. When there is less differentiation, then there is greater risk for things like propaganda. Media is usually split between promoting what is good for the people and what is good for commercial revenue.
However, Manger Bouger is an example of information directed to the public that is incorporated in both advertisements and city tourism media. Public service announcements are becoming less and less differentiated because more than one sphere (media produced by the government, and media produced by businesses) is trying to relate to the public one message: that better nutrition and more exercise leads to better health. The government has to now reach out to the businesses who sell the products to remind the public that both nutrition and exercise are strong determinants of one’s health.
With Manger Bouger, the announcement is usually very discreet. I believe that public information displayed is the health message intended, and not just an advertisement for food products. I believe that Manger Bouger shows what it means for media to mix well intended government messages with marketing, without it being propaganda.