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Competitor complaint sees Dior ad banned over misleading lash claims

By Andrew MCDOUGALL , 25-Oct-2012
Last updated on 03-May-2013 at 09:47 GMT2013-05-03T09:47:38Z

At a time when cosmetics companies are getting pulled up left, right and centre over misleading advertising claims, the UK watchdog has another victim; this time its Dior for exaggerating the effects of its mascara.

Despite a host of information presented by the French fashion house, the Advertising Standards Authority has banned a magazine ad for Dior Show mascara staing it did not have sufficient evidence to support the claims.

The ad in question showed an image of actress Natalie Portman, and text stating "Lash-multiplying effect volume and care mascara. The miracle of a nano brush for an unrivalled lash creator effect. It delivers spectacular volume-multiplying effect, lash by lash".

Competitor complaint

The complaint was issued by cosmetics rival L’Oreal’s UK division who said the ad misleadingly exaggerated the likely effects of the product.

In response, Dior said that it had not received any complaints from consumers and considered that the ad did not go beyond the likely consumer expectations of what was achievable with the product, and that the style of the ad was to be taken into account.

The image used actually came from a previous shoot taken for a lipstick product in which Portman had applied the mascara to her natural lashes; so Dior decided to use the image again.

The cosmetics maker did admit the lashes were retouched digitally in post-production in relation to her upper lashes and was primarily used to increase the length and curve of a number of her lashes and to replace a number of missing or damaged lashes, with only a minimal amount of retouching in relation to increasing the thickness and volume of a number of her natural lashes.

The ASA took this all into account and noted that the ad had therefore used post-production retouching on an area (namely the eyelashes) which was directly relevant to the apparent performance of the mascara product being advertised.

Studies not sufficient

Dior also provided studies on the product which they considered supported that the lash multiplying effect, volume effect and any potential lash/lengthening/curving effect illustrated by the ad was achievable on natural unadorned lashes and they did not consider the post-production techniques went beyond the likely consumer expectations of what was achievable using the product.

[Dior] considered that the studies supported the claim that the product was capable of producing the appearance of those effects on natural lashes and showed that the effects were in line with tests on actual consumers,” said the advertisers statement.

The ASA acknowledged that the survey results provided by Dior showed that the consumer evaluation of the product's effects was very positive in relation to a number of aspects surveyed.

But it was not to be Dior’s day, as the ASA also noted that before and after photos presented by the mascara maker did not give enough, if any, evidence that the product had produced the lash effect and not the retouch.

“Because we considered that we had not seen sufficient evidence to show that the post-production retouching on Natalie Portman's lashes in the ad did not exaggerate the likely effects of the product, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead,” ASA concluded.

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