Inserm Launches Its New Campaign Against Fake News in Health

Inserm has launched a new component of its general public campaign, On gagne tous les jours à s’intéresser à la santé [We always benefit from focusing on health]. The Institute has created a series of fake products promising miracle solutions, like those promoted on social media.

The objective? Raise awareness of the health risks associated with misinformation and draw attention to the importance of getting information from rigorous scientific sources. This campaign, which takes the form of an ad broadcast on YouTube and the major replay platforms throughout the month of November, comes in the wake of other initiatives launched by the Institute since 2018 to fight health misinformation.

Magic products to treat skin problems, ensure rapid weight loss or cure depression: these are the promises of the range of “fake products” devised by Inserm. Inspired by what can be found online, the three “fake products” with their deliberately exaggerated promises were placed in a vending machine set up in a large Paris train station to obtain the reactions of passers-by. This initiative was filmed to make an ad, which is being broadcast from October 23 to November 23 on the replay sites of various French TV channels (MTF1, FranceTV, M6 group) and YouTube.

campagne pub InsermThe vending machine set up in Saint-Lazare train station for the filming of the ad.  Production: Yohannes Cousy for the agency Insign

Revigorator: the cream for well-oiled joints – Directions for use: massage in with 72 small circular movements until fully absorbed, Maigrizer: the slimming drink for guaranteed weight loss – Consume this and nothing else for 3 weeks, Bye-bye deprim’: the juice to restore your morale – Consume for 168 hours on an empty stomach

Their colorful design, combined with an absurd but realistic description of their formula, is intended to catch the eye and call into question products that promise miraculous solutions to various everyday problems.

The “miracle solutions” sold online are not always safe for the health of consumers. With this quirky campaign, Inserm wishes to raise the awareness of citizens, reiterating the work of researchers who strive to provide them with rigorous scientific information on subjects close to their everyday lives.

For Inserm it is also about reiterating its status as a source of reliable information, encouraging everyone to consult its website for any questions concerning health science.

This campaign is the continuation of Inserm’s commitment to fighting misinformation, consolidated in 2018 with the creation of its Canal Détox series of educational scientific videos aimed at establishing reliable scientific information on health topics of concern to citizens. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative now includes the publication of informative texts in rapid response to misinformation that has gone viral, continuing to draw on the rigorous and measured scientific discourse of Inserm directors and researchers.

“While the figures alert us to the decline in trust placed by French people in science, the phenomenon of health misinformation continues to increase on social media and is becoming a genuine scourge. In the face of this, Inserm is keen to provide all citizens with reliable and transparent scientific information. This latest campaign is an added lever to further strengthen the perceived utility of our biomedical research in the service of society”, states Prof. Didier Samuel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Inserm.