Are cosmetic companies going too far in their advertising?

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Advertising

Are cosmetic companies going too far in their advertising?
Sexually provocative images, airbrushed photos and misleading claims have all been cracked down on by a UK advertising watchdog in the last month, which raises the question, are cosmetic companies going too far when it comes to advertising their products?

Last week Coty UK had a magazine advert for its Marc Jacobs fragrance banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), with the UK watchdog ruling it was irresponsible and could be interpreted as sexualising a child.

The advert featured 17 year old actress Dakota Fanning sitting on the floor with an oversized bottle resting in her lap.

Inappropriately sexualised?

Coty responded by saying that it did not believe the styling of the advert suggested the model was underage or that the ad was inappropriately sexualised. It accepted the bottle and placement could be provocative but dismissed claims it was indecent.

On social networking site Twitter views were mixed, with some users saying they felt uncomfortable, whilst others did not see anything wrong with the advert itself.

The latter opionion was the view that the Australian advertising authority took, as it found the advertisement did not breach the rules of conduct.

Digital manipulation

Earlier this year the UK watchdog was busy again, this time banning adverts for L’Oréal brands Maybelline and Lancome, after complaints that the images had been digitally manipulated.

This time ASA received a complaint from British MP Jo Swinson that the ads featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington had been overly airbrushed.

L’Oréal defended its brands in both cases, admitting to digital manipulation, however it stated that the images were not out of context with the results that can be achieved by the product.

Contradictory ad campaigns

Digital manipulation in cosmetic adverts has been a big talking point for years with many complaining that the models used, and the retouching that goes on misrepresenting the results that a product can achieve and presenting women with an unattainable vision of beauty.

Unilever famously tried to alter this view by launching its Dove Campaign for Real Beauty a few years ago; using ‘real’ women in their adverts, and it generally received public acclaim.

However the company also received criticisms due to its ownership of the Lynx deodorant brand, which uses barely clothed models as a staple of its advertising, which some believe contradicted the Real Beauty campaign.

Misleading consumers

Around the time L’Oréal received its ban, so did Alberto Culver’s Tresemme hair care brand, once again for misleading the consumer with regards to product results.

The claim made in the advert was that the product could make hair ten times stronger after just one wash, with Tresemme arguing that this was in terms of resistance to brushing or combing hair.

However, ASA stated that without further explanation in the advert consumers would be lead to believe that the shampoo and conditioner would make hair physically stronger as opposed to more resistant to brushing.

Related topics Market Trends

Related news

Show more