Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is it time to ban retouching in cosmetics ads?

7/28/11

The Dove Evolution spot does a great job showing that even two hours of hair and make-up isn’t enough to avoid who knows how many hours of retouching in order to create the perfect women we see in most beauty ads. Which begs the question, are these ads misleading?

Cosmetic companies have always taken the stance that beauty advertising is aspirational. And surely no normal woman thinks there are enough beauty products in the world to turn her into a supermodel. But is it fair to show a digitally enhanced result when product efficacy is a key selling point? Personally, I’ve held back on trying any number of new wrinkle creams because I don’t believe that they actually work. And showing me a photo of an abnormally beautiful women, retouched or not, doesn’t help convince me.

But, in the UK, advertising watchdogs are taking notice. This week comes word that L’Oreal has been forced to pull ad campaigns featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington due to complaints lodged with the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority). To quote the ASA: “on the basis of the evidence we had received we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve.” (Sweney, 2011)

So my question is why is the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), the US advertising watchdog, silent on this issue? Are we just assuming that people will exercise common sense when they view these ads? Or should we be holding advertisers to higher standards as they appear to be doing across the pond? What do you think?

Sweney, M. (2011, July 27). L’Oreal’s Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington ad campaigns banned. guardian.co.uk. Retrieved July 27, 2011, from
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/27/loreal-julia-roberts-ad-banned

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