The origins of the organization

The origins of the organization

The organization Communication and democracy (Communication et démocratie) was founded in July 2021 by Alan Ouakrat, a researcher and teacher, Céline Réveillac, a militant communication expert, and Renaud Fossard, a social activist specialized in advocacy, with the support of 15 other qualified personalities who participated in its constitutive assembly.
This initiative springs from an analysis of the historical role of communication activities in the political development of our societies, the discussion leading to the drafting of the founding manifest of our organization, a few months later. Another catalyst was the recent policy failures regarding the regulation of lobbying and advertising activities in France and in Europe.

The organization Communication and Democracy (Communication et démocratie in french) was founded on July 8, 2021 by the researcher and teacher Alan Ouakrat, the activist communication expert Céline Réveillac and the social activist Renaud Fossard, following the constitutive General Assembly that brought together 18 qualified personalities.

This initiative springs from an analysis that emphasizes the need for citizen debate around the necessary policies to reform the activities of communication and influence sector in general (see Foundingmanifest), in line with a strong historical trend. It was also born out of a more specific immediate context: that of the recent conclusion of the "Programme Système publicitaire et influence des multinationales" or "SPIM" program, and out of the ongoing failure of the process to reform the regulatory framework regarding advertising, as discussed within the Climate Resilience Act, voted in 2021.

Cofounder of the association

  • Alan Ouakrat

    Alan Ouakrat is Associate Professor in Communication & Media Studies at Sorbonne Nouvelle University and a member of the Irméccen (Media, Culture, Communication and Digital Research Institute ) research laboratory.

    He defended his thesis in 2011 on online advertising on legacy-press websites. His theoretical approach is based on the critical political economy of media and communication.
    Alan's research interests range from regulation of digital platforms to responsible advertising, as well as Web3. Head of the Master 2 Degree in Digital Communication of the Sorbonne Nouvelle, he supports students’ professional integration in the digital and data analysis sector.
    Since 2022, he is coordinating the French chapter of the European “Media Pluralism Monitor” project, a comparative study on media pluralism and freedom of expression in European countries and a number of neighbouring countries.

    He participated in the co-founding of the association Communication and Democracy (Communication et démocratie) with Céline Réveillac and Renaud Fossard, whose purpose is the regulation of advertising activities and discourses, as well as the formulation of proposals to improve advertising sobriety.
    As a collective, they bring together professionals, associations and researchers to reflect on what could be desirable advertising regulations, in parallel and sometimes in consultation with the main institutions and companies concerned.

    Alan Ouakrat is Associate Professor and resarcher in Communication & Media Studies

  • Céline Réveillac

    Céline Réveillac is a communication manager and a freelance consultant. She holds a Master's degree in marketing and communications (INSEEC business school).

    She has worked in communications agencies and then for advertisers in various areas. Céline works now as a communication manager in a cancer association, she also works as a freelance communication consultant for public-interest organizations and positive impact companies.
    She has been a specialist in (ir)responsible communication and a greenwashing tracker (@Greenwashing_lovers) for 15 years, raising awareness of more responsible practices and giving lessons in establishment of higher education and training. She has also been involved in raising awareness and enhancing the skills of communicators in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region through APACOM (association of communications professionals in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region) where she led the commission "Com'avenir" for 4 years. Furthermore, Céline co-founded Reboot ! in 2021, a student event for responsible communications, which attracted almost 5,500 participants at its last edition.

    As a commitment on a new dimension, she participated in the creation of CODE, alongside Renaud Fossard and Alan Ouakrat. Although communication operators are finally beginning to embrace "responsible" communication, she notes that resistance is still very strong when it comes to questioning the place of advertising in society.
    Thanks to CODE, Céline hopes to bring about a real change in the sector, a key condition for building a desirable world compatible with planetary limits.

    Céline Réveillac is a communication manager and a freelance consultant

  • Renaud Fossard

    Renaud Fossard is a political analyst and a communicator. He is executive director of the association Communication and democracy (Communication et Démocratie).

    Renaud was initially awarded a License’s degree in European and International Law from the University of Aix-Marseille and a Master's degree in Political Science from Grenoble Institute of Political Studies. Between 2009 and 2015, he worked as an advocacy officer for various organisations in France and Latin America that fight tax evasion by multinational corporations.
    Thanks to this experience, he has been able to observe the decisive role played by the communication and influence activities of major corporations in preserving economic models that are predatory for human beings and the environment, maintaining an unsustainable consumerist way of life, influencing the media and capturing political decision-making processes. In 2015-16, Renaud went back to the university and obtained a Master’s degree in Corporate Communication at CELSA, a communication and journalism school that is part of the Sorbonne University in Paris. He then sets up the "SPIM programme" (french acronym for advertising system and influence of multinationals) which he ran for 4 years to produce expert reports on the issues involved in regulating communications activities. This programme will lead to the publication of a landmark report on these issues in 2020 entitled "Big Corpo".

    The following year, Renaud co-founded the association Communication and democracy with Alan Ouakrat and Céline Réveillac, in order to provide civil society and public debate with a key player, able to act on the regulation of communication activities.

    Renaud Fossard is a political analyst and a communicator

Before the foundation of the association: the "spim program"

The SPIM Program ran from 2017 to 2020 under the leadership of Renaud Fossard in association with three social movements "Friends of the Earth France"; "Communication sans frontières" and "Résistance à l'agression publicitaire";

It aimed to assess and identify the various proposals surrounding the issues at stake in the different policy attempts to regulate the communication activities, be they commercial or political, of the multinational corporate sector.

This program led, among other things, to the organization of a symposium "De l'industrie publicitaire aux relations publiques, les outils d'influence des multinationales" (From the advertising industry to public relations, the tools of influence of multinational corporations), held in May 2018 at the Institute of Communication Sciences in Paris (summary and videos of the roundtables).

It was followed by the publication, in May 2020, together with 21 partner organizations, of the report "Big Corpo. Réguler la pub et l'influence des multinationales, un enjeux écologique et démocratique" (Big Corpo. Regulating advertising and the influence of multinationals, an ecological and democratic issue) (full report and summary of the report).

The political context when the association was launched

Drafted during the proceedings of the Citizen's Climate Convention (CCC - Convention citoyenne pour le climat), which began in October 2019, and published in the press a few weeks before the CCC published its own conclusions in June 2020, the "Big Corpo" report directly contributed to the emergence of a public debate on the issues surrounding the need to regulate advertising, promotional marketing as well as the struggle against greenwashing.

Public awareness regarding these issues by civil society, public opinion and part of the professional communications sector was further raised by the inclusion of this agenda of reforms in the parliamentary debates regarding the "Climate and Resilience" Act. Despite this, however, in the end, the final version of the Act resulted in numerous compromises and setbacks by the majority in power regarding the need to regulate the activities of the commercial communication sector.

This failure was also in line with a more general dynamic of lack of ambition by the public authorities - or even lack of political debate - on the issues concerning the regulation of communication in the wider sense, and in particular issues like "360° lobbying" and the impact of advertising on the media and the Internet, at French as well as European levels.

In this context, the conclusion of the SPIM program in the second half of 2020 prompted a certain number of citizens from different backgrounds to take the initiative, at the beginning of 2021, to create an organization entirely dedicated to the analysis of and advocacy on matters of communication and influence by large corporations and organizations: "Communication et démocratie" was born in the summer of the same year.

Governing bodies and functioning of the organization

"Communication et démocratie" is an incorporated society according to the French law of 1901 (Association Loi 1901). In this section you will find its statutes, an overview of its main governing bodies and its modus operandi as well as the members of…

Founding document

The founding document of the association « Communication et démocratie» (Communication and Democracy) was adopted on May 9, 2022 by unanimous consent of the entire membership of the founding meeting.

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