The UK’s ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) investigated and banned another cosmetics ad this week. This time the target was Christian Dior’s Dior Show New Look Mascara. Featuring Natalie Portman, airbrushing was used to create a more separated look on Portman’s lashes.
These tactics are certainly not unheard of. We’re constantly bombarded by beauty and cosmetics advertisement claiming to defy nature when it comes to our faces. Futuristic anti-wrinkle cream commercials boast age-defying properties that can turn the clock back on damage to our skin, while mascara ads show long, full lashes that Brigitte Bardot herself would envy. With the Commerce Department having reported that Americans alone spent $33.3 billion on cosmetic and beauty products in back in 2010, it’s no wonder that companies are aggressive when its comes to pushing their beautifying discoveries on the public.
The fact is that while all major cosmetics companies use everything from labs testing to surveys to back-up their claims, they also have the advantage of professional photographers, celebrity endorsements, great lighting and…wait for it…Photoshop (you mean her skin isn’t really molded from plastic?!). What's worse, if these women who are noted as some of the most beautiful on the planet need their photos enhanced, what chance do the rest of us have? However, the FDA, BBB, and especially the UK’s ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) as of late, are quick to jump on commercials, magazine ads, and claims they believe are misleading the public.
Perhaps one of the worst offenders, L’Oreal, has been cited multiple times for various ads. As far back as 2007, a L’Oreal mascara ad featuring Penelope Cruz was banned in the UK when it turned out she was wearing false eyelashes. In 2011, L’Oreal owned brands Lancome and Maybelline both had foundation ads banned, one with Julia Roberts for Teint Miracle and the other featuring Christy Turlington for The Eraser. And this past February L’Oreal took another hit when the ASA banned its ad for Revitalift featuring Rachel Weisz. In all three instances the company had used Photoshop/airbrushing techniques to improve the quality of the spokespersons’ skin.
The most interesting twist in this whole misleading mess, however, may be that now cosmetics companies having taken to actually throwing each other under the bus. The complaint against Dior was actually launched by L’Oreal. This latest move on the part of the cosmetics giant can best be described as an attitude: if we’re going down, we’re taking all you bitches with us. With the holiday ad season quickly approaching, it will be interesting to see how Dior will retaliate -- or what other competitors L’Oreal will be throwing to the wolves.