Misleading L'Oreal mascara adverts banned in the UK

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Advertising, Asa

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) in the UK has ruled that
L'Oreal remove both the TV and the press adverts for their
Telescopic mascara setting a new precedent for the industry as a
whole.

The adverts, that star Penelope Cruz, claim 'up to 60 per cent longer lashes and definition lash by lash'​. The secret to this apparently lies in the 'high precision flexible brush that separates the lashes with precision for intensity lash by lash. The flexible brush lengthens your lashes for telescopic length.'​ In addition to the lengthening claims, both adverts contain close up images of the actress' eyes and eyelashes, apparently illustrating the effect of the product. However, the ASA received complaints from consumers who believed that the actress' eyelashes had been enhanced by the addition of fake eyelashes, arguing that the adverts were misleading as they exaggerated the effect that could be achieved by the use of the product alone. In response L'Oreal told the ASA that the claim of '60 per cent longer lashes' was supported by both scientific and consumer data, explaining that the lengthening effect is due to the mascara making the tips more visible. However, L'Oreal also admitted that Penelope Cruz had been wearing a few individual false lashes in order to fill in gaps in her natural lashes, although they asserted that the claimed lengthening effect could be achieved from the mascara irrespective of the presence or absence of false lashes. Nevertheless, the ASA has ruled that L'Oreal should have made it more obvious that the claim for 60 per cent longer lashes referred to a 'perceived effect' and not an 'actual increase' in the lash length. In addition the ASA has ruled that the images of Cruz wearing individual false lashes, even though she was not wearing a false set of full lashes, did nevertheless exaggerate the effect that could be achieved by using the mascara on natural lashes. In conclusion the ASA ruled that the adverts are misleading, therefore breaking the industry codes of practice. The agency has asked L'Oreal to remove both the TV and the press ads from the media, in addition stating that a disclaimer should be used in any future ads with models wearing false lashes. Matt Wilson of the ASA told Cosmetics Design Europe that 'images can be just as misleading as text'​ adding that 'this is not the first time that images have been problematic'. ​ It is certainly not the first time that the cosmetic's giant has been in trouble with the agency, either. In 2005 the ASA declared that L'Oreal's advertising campaign for an anti-wrinkle and anti-cellulite product, that starred Claudia Schiffer, lacked evidence to back up its claims and it was similarly asked to remove it from the media. Wilson further added that the ruling will have ramifications for the industry in general as it sets a precedent for other cosmetic companies to follow, concerning what is and is not acceptable in advertising campaigns of this sort.

Related topics: Market Trends, Color Cosmetics

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