business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Julia Roberts is having a tough summer.

First, her movie with Tom Hanks, Larry Crowne, tanks at the box office.

Now, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a L’Oreal magazine ad featuring the actress because the watchdog agency believed that she looked so good in the ad not because of makeup, but because of airbrushing. The ASA said this amounted to false advertising, and banned the ad.


According to Advertising Age, “L'Oreal claimed the photographer had used flattering light to reduce the imperfections, but the ASA rejected that. In its ruling, the ASA said, ‘On the basis of the evidence we received we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve’.”

It wasn’t just the Julia Roberts ad that was the target of ASA criticism. There also was an ad featuring model Christy Turlington banned by the agency for being misleading.

Again, Ad Age writes: “L'Oreal admitted it had used postproduction techniques to improve the image, but pointed out that lines under the eye, crows' feet, expression lines on the cheek and lines and pores near the model's nose were all clearly visible.”

Double ouch.

Not sure which was worse for the model’s self-image - the accusation or the defense.

I’m also not sure it is news that actresses - and actors for that matter - will use any tool at their disposal to make themselves look better and younger. What is news is that ad regulators seem to have discovered that cosmetics ads make promises that are much easier to live up when there is a professional photographer taking the picture and professional makeup artists doing the applications; it is a little tougher in the real world.

The broader lesson is about transparency - that we seem to live in a world where the bar has been raised on what is acceptable and what is not. And when it is pointed out that some advertising is misleading, the news is flashed across the globe almost instantly.

That by itself is Eye-Opening.
KC's View: