Google Buys Ad In Biggest French TV Night Of The Year

Google France ad

After airing a nice romantic ad during last year’s Super Bowl, Google has aired a similar ad, catered to the French market, in the biggest TV night of the year in France, just yesterday night.

Yesterday night TF1, the top TV network in France (and indeed, Europe) by viewership aired the 2008 movie “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis,” which was previously the highest grossing motion picture film in French history. Ad spots for the movie were reportedly sold at higher rates than the previous record holder, the final of the 2010 soccer World Cup.

Google can’t expect immediate benefits from the ad in France: its marketshare here hovers around 90% against “only” 65% in the US. That being said, Google faces a few interesting threats in France.

The biggest one is a regulatory threat. Google pays no tax in France, like in most European countries, shuffling its profits across subsidiaries and then through its main European headquarters in Ireland. The French Senate recently passed a bill creating a tax on online advertising, widely dubbed the “Google tax.”

More generally, the French commentariat often does not view Google favourably, as can be the case with French people and a huge, very profitable American corporation. Google has been on a charm offensive here, recently announcing the opening of a R&D centre and Europe-wide “cultural institute” in Paris during Eric Schmidt’s last visit to the country, when previously Google’s France headquarters was almost exclusively a sales office.

Google also faces market hurdles. It’s having a hard time getting crucial small business users to buy ads from Google, people close to the company have told us. Another problem for Google is the fact that all the major telephone carriers have the iPhone instead of just one as in many countries, limiting the growth of Android — in the Paris subway, we see more Android ads than actual Android phones, and Google’s French ad features Android prominently.

So in that contest an ad with a huge audience can’t hurt. And we’re betting doing something to get the French to have a warm and fuzzy feeling for the Google brand won’t hurt as they lobby against the “Google tax.”

Here’s the ad:

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