Advertisers Challenge Bolloré’s Sunday Paper Loyalty

The second edition of the “JDD” of the Geoffroy Lejeune era risks chasing the pages of pubs. Several traditional advertisers do not want to see their name associated with an editorial line close to the extreme right.

Sunday, August 13 will be released the second edition of the Sunday Journal Geoffroy Lejeune version, two weeks after the end of the historic strike of the editorial staff of the newspaper. The first edition was an issue with reduced pagination, prepared in a few days in total improvisation and a certain amateurism which came to light with the affair of the photo error in one. Not to mention the liberties taken with ethics with this “open letter from parents of victims” written in fact by journalist Charlotte d’Ornellas. This second issue, which will take up the usual pagination of the JDD, will perhaps take up these surprising ingredients. But will the advertising be there? Nothing is less sure.

In the issue published on August 6, only self-promotion inserts appeared (to encourage subscription in particular). The month of August is often calm in terms of advertising campaigns and in the immediate future an internal source at the Sunday newspaper recognizes that there is “not much to expect”. But the absence of advertising already represents a shortfall which further weakens the financial resources of the newspaper, after the long strike of the JDD team, today up to 90%, which will have resulted in six non-publications on Sundays. As reported by Le Monde, internal sources at Lagardère projected a drop in advertising revenue at the beginning of July linked to the arrival of the former editor of Current Values up to 60%, out of the 8 million euros of advertising turnover forecast for 2023. Figures disputed by Marie Renoir, president of the advertising department of the Lagardère group, who then mentioned “premature” forecasts. Contacted by Liberation, Lagardère’s advertising department did not respond to our requests.

Publicis and its big cautious clients

Which brands will be likely to reappear in the pages of the newspaper in the coming weeks? Certainly not System U, which was one of the regular advertisers, with four pages purchased in total since the beginning of the year. Contacted, the group claims to have “no insertion planned on the JDD for the end of the year”. Another big advertiser, present several times in the editions preceding the arrival of Lejeune, deprogrammed its campaign planned for September. Wishing to remain anonymous, he claims to withdraw from the JDD for reasons of “editorial line” and “overall quality of the newspaper”, and specifies that he will redirect his advertising campaign to Les Echos.

Among the most regular advertisers in the first half of 2023, before the appointment of Geoffroy Lejeune, we found Société Générale in first position, followed by BNP Paribas, Renault and Louis Vuitton. These large companies are used to working with Publicis Media for their press advertising campaigns. As Reporters Without Borders reported in early August, the communication agency expressed in an internal memo dated June 28 “a principle of caution” and a “reservation” regarding the publication of advertisements in the JDD, “and at greater reason if the current wording were to be discarded”. At the time, the historic forty-day strike had just begun, and the wave of departures in the editorial staff had not begun. The current situation, with more than 70 departures of journalists in recent days, certainly did not reassure the agency and its clients. Contacted, these companies have not yet responded to Liberation requests.

Sleeping Giants launch boycott campaign

If the advertising is lacking in the pages, the newspaper will have the option of self-promotion and exchanges of inserts with “friendly” media to deceive. Already widespread in the first half of the year, ads for Canal + and Europe 1 should no doubt increase in future editions. The Vivendi group of Vincent Bolloré, in the process of buying the Lagardère group, also has another advantage: that of owning, with Havas, one of the largest communication agencies in France. Which should therefore encourage its customers to communicate in the JDD. Otherwise, Lagardère can always turn to the usual advertisers of Current Values, Viager Prévoyance, the auction house Primardeco or Issep, the private Catholic school of Marion Maréchal Le Pen, a close friend of Geffroy Lejeune. But the latter are far from boxing in the same category as Renault, BNP Paribas or LVMH.

As for the Sunday newspaper website, several advertising spaces continued to be displayed during the strike, and since the effective takeover of the editorial staff by Geoffroy Lejeune. But the advertisers who appear on the site have been publicly challenged on Twitter (renamed X) by the Sleeping Giants collective since Wednesday. The activist organization, created in 2016 in the United States, appeared in France from 2017 calling for an advertising boycott of far-right media such as Valeurs Actuelles, CNews, Boulevard Voltaire or Causeur. “As soon as a site chooses an intolerant, stigmatizing, divisive, hateful editorial line and is remunerated by advertising, we start an action, explains the Sleeping Giants collective to Liberation. Knowing Geoffroy Lejeune and his entourage, the content and the speakers of the first issue, that was enough to decide us to launch the alert action on the JDD.

“Bolloré seems determined to continue to disseminate its ideologies”

Intermarché, La Poste, Renault and even Macif were thus challenged by the collective. “Our alert actions are directed towards advertisers whose advertisements are found on a media without their knowledge, specifies Sleeping Giants. This mainly includes the Web, with programmatic advertising mechanisms [automated advertising space purchases on different sites, editor’s note]”. If the advertiser no longer wishes to see its advertisements appear on leJDD.fr, it can then register the site on a list which excludes it from its digital campaign. Only the La Poste group has for the moment responded to the collective, without making any concrete public commitment against the Sunday newspaper: “As already mentioned in our regular exchanges [with Sleeping Giants], our advertising strategies are responsible and ethical, writes however the La Poste group account in response to the organisation. We have asked our agency to remain very vigilant about our advertising placements.”

But Vincent Bolloré, who has other intentions, does not seem to worry so much about the profitability of his media: C8 or CNews are still in deficit by several million euros a year, as recently revealed by Letter A. And Sleeping Giants is aware of this. “Of course, we are not going to rock his empire: Bolloré seems determined to continue to disseminate his ideologies despite the fact that he is losing money there, explains the collective. Our action has a utility, if only to show that basing a media on hatred, intolerance, division and stigmatization is not necessarily synonymous with financial gain. Coincidence or coincidence, Sleeping Giants has seen a collective response to its actions: the Corsairs have been trying for two years to convince advertisers to stay in the far-right media in the name of pluralism. This “digital armada” would be an offshoot of the communication agency Progressive Media according to several media, including Streetpress or DNA. In the capital of this agency, we find a certain Vincent Bolloré: Vivendi acquired 8.5% of the shares last year.

This article is originally published on liberation.fr

 

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