UK Bans Overly Retouched, Poorly Defended L'Oréal Ads


banned Maybelline ad featuring Christy Turlington

On the basis that they were manipulated to the point that they were “not representative of the results the product[s] could achieve,” the UK successfully banned two recent print ads from L’Oréal-owned brands.  The first was for Lancôme’s Teint Miracle, which claims it helps natural light appear to emanate from skin, and featured Julia Roberts wearing the product.  The second was a Maybelline ad with Christy Turlington, promoting an anti-aging foundation called the Eraser.

If only make-up could make that big a difference.  Image courtesy of L’Oréal.

In the case of the Eraser, L’Oréal argued that because some of Turlington’s crow’s feet were still visible, the image was valid.  They did, however, admit to digitally retouching the ad to lighten her skin, reduce shadows and shading around her eyes, and smooth Turlington’s lips — among other alterations.  There’s not much of an argument to be based on some barely perceptible laugh lines.  The company also completely refused to release any kind of pre-production pictures of Roberts, citing contractual obligations with the actress; thus those differences from retouching weren’t specifically enumerated.  But take a look for yourself below — the photo doesn’t seem to have all that much to do with reality.

Image courtesy of L’Oréal.

Of course, the fact that make-up advertising is retouched is both common practice and common knowledge.  Yet when we’ve reached a point that some cosmetics companies go out on a limb to, well, advertise their un-retouched advertising, L’Oréal’s recent overzealous visual edits seem more egregious.  How much will the ruling against them, from the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, have an impact on future ads, and how soon?


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