Retouched advertisements are certainly nothing new, but The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been cracking down on companies they believe have been heavy handed with the airbrushing wand. According to BBC News, Member of Parliament Jo Swinson has been lobbying against digitally altered images and she raised the red flag on two L'Oreal advertisements she claimed were "not representative of the results the products could achieve." One ad features actress Julia Roberts for Lancome Teint Miracle foundation, while the other shows supermodel Christy Turlington for a Maybelline foundation called The Eraser. As evidenced by the ads, the results of these products, both owned by parent company L'Oreal, are just a little too flawless.
Click here for another L'Oreal beauty ad that came under scrutiny
In Roberts' foundation ad, the text claims it is the "1st foundation that recreates the aura of perfect skin." MP Jo Swinson felt the real magic was done digitally. L'Oreal admitted they retouched the photos, but stood true to their claim that the products could potentially yield these results. The French company said Teint Miracle took 10 years to develop and that their research proved it makes skin "more radiant and luminous." According to the ASA Adjudication, L'Oreal insisted Julia Roberts' "naturally healthy and glowing skin" was the perfect palette to show the effects of their product, and that acclaimed photographer Mario Testino used lighting that reduced imperfections. The ASA requested a before shot to illustrate just how much the ad was digitally manipulated, but unfortunately Roberts' contract stipulates that no un-airbrushed shots can be released. L'Oreal supplied red carpet photos of the actress to illustrate her nice complexion, but that was not enough.
"Advertisers must be able to provide appropriate material to us to demonstrate what retouching they've done in the event we question them, and they mustn't mislead," Guy Parker, Advertising Standards Authority chief executive, told BBC News. "In this event, L'Oreal didn't provide us with that evidence so we were left with no choice but to uphold the complaint." In other words, Roberts' ad must be pulled in the UK.
As for Christy Turlington's ad, L'Oreal confirmed to the ASA that the ad was modified to "lighten the skin, clean up make-up, reduce dark shadows and shading around the eyes, smooth the lips and darken the eyebrows." They said they didn't believe they had crossed the line, but the ASA said her left eye had been significantly altered (seriously, where are the wrinkles?). As Parker told BBC News, "If advertisers go too far in using airbrushing and other post-production techniques to alter the appearance of models and it's likely to mislead people, then that's wrong and we'll stop the ads."
Once again, L'Oreal refused to provide the un-retouched images to see exactly how much work had been done. Since this is a requirement for the ASA, Turlington's ad was pulled in the UK as well.
Do you believe that these ads have crossed a line? Aren't all retouched ads somewhat misleading? Do you think the United States should be cracking down on misleading ads as well?
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