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Headlines > Regulation & Safety

P&G vows to never show misleading mascara ad again following Photoshop allegations

By Andrew McDougall , 19-Dec-2011
Last updated on 20-Dec-2011 at 09:13 GMT

Procter and Gamble has vowed not to print adverts for its CoverGirl Nature Luxe Mousse Mascara again after a US advertising watchdog stated it had misleadingly used Photoshop to alter images.

The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus Claims (NAD) originally pulled up the cosmetics ad for making superior performance claims and for digitally retouching the image used.

In P&G’s defence there was a disclaimer stating ‘lashes enhanced in post-production’, however NAD said that putting such a statement on an advert in small print, does not make it acceptable.

Admitting defeat

Having been contacted by NAD, P&G responded by saying it had permanently discontinued all of the challenged claims and the photograph used in the advert.

“It is well-established that product demonstrations in advertisements must be truthful and accurate and cannot be enhanced,” accepted the CoverGirl brand owner in a statement.

The response from NAD to this action was to announce its satisfaction, deeming the removal of the ad indefinitely as ‘necessary and proper’.

The particular ad in question was for a mascara product featuring a model looking up to highlight her long eyelashes, with the disclaimer beneath the image.

NAD considered whether the advertising at issue conveyed the implied messages that consumers who use the mascara product would get lashes like those depicted in the advertisement and that the lashes depicted in the photograph were achieved solely by using the product.

The advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum also requested substantiation over claims that that the product produced ‘2X more volume**vs. bare lashes’ and were ’20 percent lighter*vs. the most expensive mascara.’

Not for the first time…

It is not the first time this year that a major cosmetics firm has been caught out for digitally retouching images in adverts.

NAD’s UK equivalent, Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), banned print adverts for L’Oréal’s Maybelline and Lancome brands in the summer following allegations that they had been digitally manipulated.

The issue arose with the fact that the images in both adverts were misleading as the flawless skin was the result of digital manipulation rather than from product use.

L’Oréal admitted to post-production work taking place on the images but insisted that this was not out of context considering the models, Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington, are recognized as beautiful women, and that the images in the advert were representative of the results that could be achieved with the product.

ASA however did not see it that way, stating that the images had been exaggerated and were misleading, and banned both adverts from appearing again in the current form.

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