English in French advertising

Published on 16/06/2021

You have probably seen English advertisement on TV, on packaging or on the street.

The use of Anglicisms is increasing in French society, but especially in the marketing field.

You may be wondering why everyone is so obsessed for Shakespeare's language on billboards, in the press, on the radio, on TV and, of course, on the Internet.

1. The reason for the English success

The reason for the English success

Many professionals in France prefer to use English in advertising because it is supposed to be more attractive and creative. It is also considered modern when it is aimed for young French people, who are increasingly connected to and influenced by American culture.

Finally, it is perceived as easier to use than French itself, especially in terms of sound, with many short words.

The use of English is not only common in English-speaking companies that do not adapt their content, but French brands themselves are increasingly venturing into English.

In 2020, you might have read “Smart money Smart life” from Sofinco (a brand name specialising in consumer loans) or “For All Your Lives” from French car manufacturer Renault.

2. What does French law say about the use of Anglicisms in advertising?

What does French law say about the use of Anglicisms in advertising?

The Toubon Law was passed in 1994 in France to limit the use of foreign languages and promote the use of French in business advertising and marketing.

The last ones are obliged to display the French translation of the message and must ensure that the foreign language terms are as legible as the translation in the advertisements.

However, the term “as legible” is not so easy to define and everyone can interpret it in their own way.

Moreover, the slogans “I'm loving it” from McDonald's, “Just do it” from Nike or “What else” from Nespresso are pretty well anchored in our heads, their translations not so much.

An organisation called The General Directorate for Competition, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes is in charge of enforcing this law, but once again this law would deserve some clarification.

The Association de Défense de la langue française (Association for the Defence of the French Language) also defends the influence of the French language and supports the use of certain neologisms in French against Anglicisms.

For example, it prescribes the use of the term “courriel” instead of “email” and “fin de semaine” or “reposailles” instead of “week-end”.

3. Should marketing content be translated or not?

Should marketing content be translated or not?

We have to admit that when it comes to the younger generation, the use of English is more effective. In fact, we are constantly in contact with English, whether through social networks, music, films or series.

Marketers are simply adapting to a society where English is everywhere. After all, being open to the world does not necessarily mean rejecting one's own culture.

However, the use of Anglicisms excludes a part of the non-English speaking population, older generations often do not understand the terms used and may feel left out.

Moreover, French is a very rich language and, even if using English in advertising is a simple choice, making a creative effort in French can be very fruitful.

What do you think?

You can use a specialised translation agency to translate your marketing content. These professionals will know how to make sense of and adapt your message to your target audience.

Sana Tayssir's picture
Sana Tayssir

Marketing and sales assistant at AbroadLink Traductions. Sana Tayssir is currently in her second year of a Master's degree in English at the University Jean Moulin Lyon 3. She also holds a Bachelor's degree in English language, literature and civilization.

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