Sunday, 22 May, 2022

A Parisian clinic breaks the taboo of TV advertising for medical procedures

A private clinic in Paris has just organized a campaign to

television advertisement for cosmetic surgery. The legislation is respected, but the council of the order of doctors is opposed to this practice.

From February 1 and for two weeks, French women will discover on television that they too can be beautiful… if they entrust their face and body to surgeons at the Clinique du Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées. The spot is not in the lace. It shows the sumptuous naked body of a young woman, while a voice-over explains that “surgery is also an art in the service of beauty”. An address and a telephone number then appear on the screen. End of message.

And while waiting for the month of February, the same clinic started yesterday evening on the three television channels a first campaign devoted to hair implants.

For the first time in the history of French medicine, a private clinic breaks the taboo and launches into the pure marketing of the medical act. A priori, however, the medical professions are strictly prohibited from advertising. Article 23 of the code of ethics of the council of the national order of doctors clearly indicates that medicine cannot be practiced as a trade and that those who come to consult are patients and not customers. However, the clinic and its advertising spot have passed all the checks and balances: that of the DGCCRF (General Directorate for Consumer Affairs, Competition and Fraud Prevention), that also of the Advertising Verification Office, and even, it seems, that of the Ministry of Health, which is careful not to intervene. “The clinic has taken advantage of the legal void that exists on this issue, since our code applies to doctors and not to clinic directors”, explains Olivier Dubois, the general secretary of the order of doctors. “I also wonder how the BVP was able to give a favorable opinion to this spot, when the word surgery is clearly pronounced there and that the office in question can in no way comment on the quality of the acts of this establishment.”

For the clinic that commissioned this campaign, the event is simply jubilant. First, because the establishment is a business like any other, incorporated as a limited liability company and as such it has every right to advertise. Aware of its impotence, the Council of the Order seized the Ministry of Health. A call that went unanswered.

The institution fears above all the excesses that could follow. First on the advertising level: if private medical establishments begin to assert their business vocation before their medical vocation, France could gradually move towards an American-style situation, where cosmetic surgeons use advertising as the essential vector for building up a clientele. In addition, when we know that in some cases hair implants or ear reattachments are acts reimbursed by Social Security, professionals are concerned: this trivialization of cosmetic surgery would be contrary to the imperatives of controlling the expenses of health.

Finally, the clinic’s mode of operation shows that its objectives are indeed those of a service company. The clinic is content to welcome professional surgeons who pay to use recently modernized premises and operate on patients. These in turn pay the practitioners on a fee-for-service basis. In addition, those in charge of the place have concluded an agreement with the BNP so that the bank grants loans to those who are in need of aesthetics.

Nathalie Bensahel