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French advertisers having a laugh over president's affair

PARIS--As French President Francois Hollande wades through the fallout of revelations he has been having an affair with an actress, companies are looking to drum up business by having a laugh at his expense.

Hollande has had a rough two weeks both personally and politically since glossy magazine Closer published pictures of him hopping off the back of a motor scooter, his head clad in a large black helmet, for an apparent rendezvous with actress Julie Gayet at an apartment near the presidential palace.

While most French voters say the president's love life is his own business, news of the affair has trended on social networks, prompting businesses to seek to tap in on the issue in their ads.

A car-hire company, Drive, ran a newspaper ad with a map tracing the route from the Elysee presidential palace to the apartment where Hollande's tryst occurred — and pricing the trip at 5 euros.

“Unseen. Unknown. Private cars, tinted windows. At prices this low, you should choose discretion,” it said.

Another rental car company, Sixt, made a similar crack in a newspaper insert telling Hollande: “Mr. President, next time avoid the scooter. Sixt rents cars with tinted windows.”

The company, which is headquartered in Germany, is known for picking on French presidents. It also had a go at Hollande's diminutive predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, after he divorced his wife and married actress, singer and fashion model Carla Bruni.

“Do like Mrs. Bruni and opt for a small French model,” it told customers in a German ad.

Online dating site Be2 tapped into sympathy for Hollande's partner Valerie Trierweiler, mocking a line from the president's 2012 election campaign against Sarkozy.

“Dear Valerie, the time to change is now,” it said on its homepage.

Virgin Radio for its part compared the president's motorbike helmet to those worn by French electronic music duo Daft Punk.

“Mr. President, we know you're a fan. Daft Punk is on the Virgin Radio playlist,” it said.

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