an investigation opened for suspicion of hidden advertising for the Ricard brand

An account, advocating pastis Ricard, publishes staged photos of children, and pays influencers to promote the drink. It is now in private access.

The Addictions France association is asking the courts to force TikTok and Instagram (through its parent company Meta) to communicate to it the name and contact details of the Internet user behind the “yourbestriflon” account, suspected of advertising disguised for pastis Ricard.

A video of “yourbestriflon” published on TikTok showed “a young woman driving a little quickly, who stopped, took a glass of Ricard and drove away”, explained this Friday April 15 before the Paris court Me François Lafforgue , the lawyer for Addictions France.

“It’s typically what we don’t want to see!”, He said during an “accelerated hearing on the merits” procedure, close to the summary procedure.

On Instagram, “yourbestriflon” (16,900 subscribers) welcomes the Internet user with the mention “more yellow than gold and brighter than the sun, we are Riflon”, with a yellow and blue logo, and the mention…” no connection with Ricard”.

Among the series of photos now accessible only after authorization from the account holder, which has become “private” -, constituting for example an image of two children who wonder if pastis is indeed alcohol, explained Me Lafforgue.

Beyond this particular case, “there are a whole bunch of hidden, disguised advertisements that appear on social networks”, explained Me Lafforgue.

For example, influencers are “sponsored to go to Thailand”, and publish photos of themselves with such or such alcohol.

Influencer Marketing

“It’s influence marketing, addiction sponsorship which negates the efforts of volunteers” from Addictions France, he regretted.

Faced with requests for removal of content, and identification of the user filed by the association, the two social networks have had different attitudes.

TikTok has already agreed to remove the video and does not object to providing the user’s identification data behind the account, provided the court orders it to do so.

Meta refusal to cooperate

But Meta refuses to cooperate. “It is not because Addictions France is pursuing a fight to its credit that Meta must act”, pleaded its lawyer Me Agathe Malphettes.

Meta pointed out a series of formal reasons for not complying, asserting in particular that only an Irish court could be competent, since its headquarters for Europe are established there.

Meta can only delete content if it is “manifestly illegal”, has also justified Me Malphettes.

Or Addictions France did not justify for each of the photos published on the Instagram account why they were “contrary to the law”, she argued.

In addition, the association has a gmail address for the Internet user in question, and “we do not see why it could not have contacted Google” for the identifier, she also demonstrated.

Decision on May 13

Pernod Ricard would like to point out that the Group has no connection with the “yourbestriflon” initiative, nor with any other similar one. Such a practice is contrary to the law and to our commitments in terms of responsible marketing. Due to its popularity, the Ricard brand is regularly quoted or misused by people outside the Group, which can only negatively impact the image of the brand and our company and goes against our policy of ” premiumisation”. In such a situation, as soon as we become aware of it, our teams seek to contact the authors for their request to put an end to it”, declared the Pernod Ricard group, contacted by BFMTV.

The court issued its decision on May 13.

Its decision is important because it will be one of the first to rely on new provisions on the responsibility of social networks, adopted in August 2021 as part of the law confirming the principles of the Republic, also known as the law “against the separatism”.

The Evin law of 1991 very strictly regulates alcohol advertising.

She says in particular that these advertisements must be limited “to informative content”, and that there can be “no association with the party, the conviviality, the humor”, indicated Me Lafforgue.

Victoria Beurnez with AFP

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