• Wed, Feb 1 2012

UK Bans “Misleading” L’Oreal Ad Featuring Rachel Weisz

Our old friends at the Advertising Standards Authority are still at it: the UK’s watchdog group recently banned L’Oreal ads featuring Rachel Weisz (pictured) for misleading consumers. The product–L’Oreal’s Revitalift Repair–promises to remove wrinkles, but ASA ally and parliamentarian Jo Swinson (who filed the complaint) said the beauty company “misrepresented the results that the product could achieve.”

The ASA explains:

“We told L’Oreal Paris to ensure that they did not use post-production techniques in a way that misrepresented what was achievable using the advertised product. Although we considered that the image in the ad did not misrepresent the luminosity or wrinkling of Rachel Weisz’s face, we considered that the image had been altered in a way that substantially changed her complexion to make it appear smoother and more even. We therefore concluded that the image in the ad … misleadingly exaggerated the performance of the product in relation to the claims ‘SKIN LOOKS SMOOTHER’ and ‘COMPLEXION LOOKS MORE EVEN’.”

L’Oreal, of course, doesn’t think they’re in the wrong:

[L’Oréal claims they] sought to represent Weisz as favorably as possible,” shooting her with a lot of light and giving the image a soft focus and low resolution. The firm also provided the ASA with details of what postproduction it had used on the image, as “they wished to ensure that they were compliant with the [ASA’s] code,” the ASA said.

In a response to the ruling, a spokesperson for L’Oréal said: “We are disappointed to learn that the ASA has adjudicated against our press advertisement for Revitalift Repair 10. We believe that the image in the advertisement is a true representation of Rachel Weisz. The product claims are based on extensive scientific research which proved that the product improves 10 different signs of skin aging. We therefore do not believe that the ad exaggerates the effect that can be achieved using this product.”

Although the images of Weisz are obviously retouched, we’re beginning to be concerned that the ASA could erode their own credibility by going after less flagrant abuses of Photoshop. Weisz is very beautiful and, yes, especially with a few hours in the makeup chair and some flattering sunset-y lighting, the photos are going to reflect that (or maybe we’re just saying so because our love of Weisz is well-documented).

…Then again, we’re still not sure which images have been banned, and this one (in particular) doesn’t look much like Weisz:

Last year alone, the ASA banned a Marc Jacobs campaign for “sexualizing” teenage Dakota Fanning, a Drop Dead ad for featuring a too-skinny model, and–surprise–a pair of L’Oreal ads. Are they undermining their own mission or… should obvious retouching in beauty ads be banned one by one?

(Reuters, WWD)

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  • Fabel

    I…don’t know. Photoshop is so ubiquitous now that is seems ridiculous to ban ads for using it. Of course beauty ads are a misrepresentation–companies regularly exaggerate the effectiveness of their product in order to try to sell more of it. Anyone who believes their skin will turn into digitally-altered perfection if they use this cream will quickly find out that’s not the case & stop buying. And others will buy it knowing that it obviously won’t make them look like Rachel Weisz (or whoever)If L’Oreal wants to put out ads like this, that’s their thing. Other companies might do side-by-side comparisons of “actual results” & that’s also their thing. Basically, I think banning an ad for being “misleading” limits the creative freedom that goes along with advertising? I mean, yeah.. sometimes “creativity” in marketing is kinda sleazy– but as long as they don’t claim (in words) to have some kind of magical potion, there should be wiggle room.

  • mr_man

    this is awesome. i wish the us had an asa & that it also had authority over magazine covers. everyone forgets about young girls who grow up with terrible body-image because of this stuff. it needs to stop.