There was only one complaint against each ad but that was enough to get the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to ban two L’Oréal ads, one featuring Julia Roberts and one Christy Turlington, for being ‘too airbrushed’ and therefore ‘misleading’. While L’Oréal admitted it had retouched the images it didn’t think they were misleading, and I’m inclined to agree. The world is familiar with the art of airbrushing and pretty realistic about what they’re looking at. While obviously I’d like to think I’d end up looking like a flawless Julia Roberts after using Lancôme’s Teint Miracle, I know that’s not going to happen, but I might give the product a try and then make my decision based on experience. However if it was a picture of Julia Roberts, or anyone not looking their best I’m unlikely to even consider the product.
The MP objecting to the ads was calling for greater honesty and felt the ads could contribute to body image problems. I don’t think you can really equate a couple of face shots to the size zero model issue. We’re talking about a bit of aspiration here rather than the serious issue of body dismorphia, and everyone’s entitled to dream. Plus using those products might genuinely make you feel good and also make your skin look better.
When it comes to problems with body image, C&T brands are increasingly involved with teen self-esteem initiatives. Alberto Culver’s Simple for example collaborated with the PSHE Association on The Simple Wellbeing Challenge last year. More will no doubt follow.