France’s tourism advertising campaign blushed by allegations of fake photos being used

Does the camera never lie? The French advertising campaign used more than one fake photo

It was a colorful advertising campaign designed to tempt Brits across the Channel to French beaches as a way to escape the Olympics this summer.

But the images splashed on billboards and newspapers as part of the £ 600,000 campaign were not all they seemed.

After a South African fashion photographer pointed out that one of the images was actually a Cape Town beach, the tourist campaign collapsed further.

The head of the French tourism agency admitted that other tropical photos had been tampered with to look like France.

Spot the difference: The photo of a woman emerging from a turquoise sea has been tampered with to include a section of the Corsican coast (above) – but the original (below) is actually a tropical photo taken at Hawaii

Woman backflip

A woman in a bikini emerging from what looks like the Mediterranean and captioned “backflip in Corsica” is actually a photo of a Hawaiian scene, where the background has been altered to present an image of the Corsican coast.

Another image showing two young men throwing a Frisbee into the sea has also been retouched with a background showing the famous French promontory of Cap Canaille, although the original is from a different beach and is available for purchase on a website offering photographs.

After the embarrassment of being caught peddling other images like the best beaches in France, the country’s tourism development agency, Atout France, was forced to apologize. The body was also investigated by the French Union of Photographers and Journalists PAJ.

Philippe Durand, the union’s press and internet organizer, revealed the “lies” spread by the agency on his blog, revealing the origin of each distorted image.

Referring to the supposed photo of Corsica, Mr. Durand explained that the original image was taken by Hawaii-based photographer Michael Sweet.

He remarked sarcastically: “But thanks to his super-powerful telephoto lens, Michael seems to have taken another version of the same photo – but with the Corsican coast in the background. Phew! ‘


Not All There: A photo of two men playing frisbee has been edited to feature the French tip of Cap Canaille

Referring to the image of the frisbee, he said: “If anyone can tell me where to find this Mediterranean beach where you can stand up to your knees in the water more than 30 meters from the shore, I promise to keep this place a secret from me. “

PAJ President Mario Fourmy said: “All the images are fake. They are inexpensive and of course have nothing to do with the tourist areas mentioned on the posters ”.

“Not only Atout France is making fun of the target customers of the campaign”, he added, “but also the actors of the tourist campaign and of course professional photographers”.

Mr Fourmy wrote to the French parliament asking it to take action against Atout France’s “disrespectful practice” of using archival photographs to falsely represent the country.

The high-profile “France, Come and Play” advertising blitz involved 23 different images, each pairing what was supposed to be a photo of the French region with an Olympic-themed slogan.

It was a London-based South African who first recognized the beach in one of the advertisements – for northern France – as being in the Cape Town suburb of Llandudno.

The poster in question showed a family running on a beach with the slogan: “Sprint Finish on the North Coast of France”.

Family on the beach

Paris, we have a problem: A photo purporting to represent a family running on the sand in northern France (above) has been unveiled as Llandudno Beach, a little further out, in Cape Town, South Africa (below)

Llandudno Beach, Cape Town

Photographer Bradford Bird said: “I grew up in Llandudno so I recognized the beach as soon as I saw it.

“I thought ‘that’s a little cheeky’ and put a picture of the billboard on my Facebook page.”

Alerted to their mistake, the French quickly replaced the ad.

Unfortunately for them, however, even the “France du Nord” alternative ad beach was at least 4,500 miles from where it should be.

American photographer Johnny Hetfield has confirmed that his image of “multiethnic friends running on the beach” was taken in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

The campaign was created for Atout France by British advertising company The Line Agency, whose managing director Steve Turton has already apologized for what he called an “unintentional mistake”.

A spokesperson for Atout France said: “We are currently negotiating with the agency. We are waiting to see what their attitude is and we reserve the right to act.

“This story is really unfortunate,” added the spokesperson, “because it tarnishes a campaign that had a good concept globally understood: surfing the theme of the Olympics to encourage those Brits who did not want crowds to come to France. ‘

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