The ads for Lancôme and Maybelline, companies owned by L’Oréal, were accused of having images that had been manipulated to an extent beyond which could be reasonably held up as achievable results obtained using the products they were advertising.
MP Jo Swinson, who has long fought against the overuse of post-production techniques, such as airbrushing, in advertising, made the complaint against L’Oréal and has said “we should have some honesty in advertising and that’s exactly what the ASA is there to do. I’m delighted they’ve upheld these complaints.”
L’Oréal has admitted both images were retouched, but has denied that the ads were misleading. In an attempt to have the complaint overruled L’Oréal supplied pictures of both Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington on the red carpet, showing that they are both naturally beautiful women. L’Oréal lost out against the complaint because it is a requirement that companies be able to show exactly how much retouching has been done to an image, which L’Oréal did not do, saying that it was against their contracts to release pre-production images.
Not The First Time
This is not the first time the ASA has found against the beauty industry.
Last November an ad featuring Georgia May Jagger, advertising mascara for Rimmel London, was banned due to the use of false eyelashes. In 2009 an image of the model Twiggy, used to advertise an Olay product, was also banned due to excessive airbrushing – Jo Swinson was also involved in this complaint. And in June 2010, L’Oréal was again under scrutiny for a hair care ad featuring Cheryl Cole which prompted complaints from the public, as Cole is well known for having hair extensions. On that particular occasion the ASA did not ban the ad, concluding that it was not misleading, however future runs of the ad included a line advising that Cole was wearing hair extension.
Will The UK Stand Alone?
It is encouraging to see the ASA stepping in and letting advertisers know that the images they use need to be reasonably achievable using the products advertised.
It is not healthy for younger people in particular, to be bombarded with these images, believing them to be accurate, or something they are expected to emmulate.
We have all become a little too found of the retouch buttons on our computers in this digital age and as Jo Swinson has said, we need to “get back to reality”.
Hopefully the UK will not remain alone in this fight against the use of unrealistic imagery, and other countries will step up to the plate as well.