A Visitor’s Look at the French Media Landscape

A sign at a store in Paris' Marais section. Photo: Nancy Lazarus
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In June, France banned the use of the words ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’ on TV and radio programs, claiming that they promoted “selective advertising.” This sparked our curiosity about France’s media landscape, so on a trip earlier this month to Paris and Provence, we set out to discover signs of what people are talking about across digital media and general news. We found them on store windows, restaurant signs, brochures and ads.

In terms of social media use, France ranks ninth in the number of Facebook users, with 22.2 million based on checkfacebook.com. The country ranks thirteenth in share of Twitter users, according to Sysomos 2010 figures. Other social platforms used in France include Viadeo, a business networking site; Skyrock, a social site; Trombi and Copains d’Avant, social sites for former students; and Daily Motion, a.k.a France’s YouTube.

After the jump are a few observations based on our walking tour.

Photo: Nancy Lazaru
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Facebook was less noticeable on ads and signs in Paris, except in the trendy boutiques in the Marais neighborhood. However, the social site was on display more in Aix-en-Provence, a university town. For example, a local pizza shop posted a sign with a list of its Facebook fans.

Apple is very popular in France, as evidenced by many people using iPhones. Signs in the Paris metro warned against using cell phones there since they are often stolen. While iPad and Samsung ads were prevalent, so far there appear to be far fewer ‘on the go’ tablet users than in the U.S.

QR Codes  are used extensively, and we spotted them in store windows and on buses in Paris.

Photo: Nancy Lazarus
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In the news, buzz about Gerard Depardieu’s infamous airplane incident seems to have subsided, but Dominique Strauss-Kahn news remains front and center since his return to France. His arrival in Paris on Labor Day weekend created a media frenzy at the airport along with skeptical headlines. L’Express: “The Discomfort/Uneasiness.” Direct Matin: “An Embarrassing Return? Not Necessarily Winning.” Metro France: “The Smile of DSK Makes One Grimace.” His return also prompted loud protests among women’s groups outside his residence in the exclusive Place des Vosges.

In terms of events, Fashion Night Out was also celebrated on September 8 in Paris. Another event, called “Tous au Restaurant” is France’s version of Restaurant Week. Brochures in Provence were promoting the event, which takes place from September 19 to 25. So if you’re in town, bon appétit!