Truth Wins Out: Covergirl Ad Axed for Being ‘Misleading’
Is this the beginning of a truth trend in the beauty industry? Will photoshopped ads stop? We hope so!
The beauty aisle has been synonymous with ads featuring models with no pores, lush lips, and impossibly long lashes. Business as usual, right? Well, maybe not for much longer.
This month the National Advertising Division (NAD), an investigative unit of the U.S. advertising industry, asked Proctor & Gamble to ditch its ad for Covergirl NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara. After NAD’s attorneys analyzed the ad’s image, which featured Taylor Swift with digitally enhanced lashes, they determined that it was misleading to consumers.
Covergirl promised that users would notice “2X more volume” on their lashes just by using their new formula. But the fine print noted that not only were Swift’s lashes preened by the pros, but that they were altered in post-production, too!
“In this case, the advertisement featured a photograph of lush, long eyelashes –essentially a product demonstration,” Linda Bean, NAD’s communications director, told us. “But the advertiser noted in the little tiny mice-type that accompanied the photograph: ‘lashes enhanced in post production.’ Advertisers can’t use a photograph to demonstrate the way a product will look when it is applied, and then –in tiny type –say ‘oh, not really.’”
Agreed! We can’t help but conjure up memories of rushing to the register with a shiny new gloss (that appeared miraculous on the model) only to find that it was a sticky dud.
Finally, industry watchdogs seem to be cracking down on Photoshop-happy images! Just recently, Photoshopped ads featuring Julia Roberts for Lancôme and Christy Turlington for Maybelline were placed on the chopping block by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority.
Ultimately, P&G cooperated with NAD without a peep of protest. Bean reported that “there wasn’t any pushback.” This isn’t exactly a shocker: though NAD doesn’t have the power to ban ads outright, it can make execs’ lives a lot harder by reporting them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). An FTC showdown can include legal action and a whole lot of bad press for the beauty brand on the defensive.
Though this is a step in the right direction for truthful advertising, don’t expect a crackdown on Photoshop pros just yet. That is, unless the cropping and airbrushing directly interferes with a particular ad claim.
“Photoshopping, computer-generated images, etc. would all be considered by NAD in the full context of the advertising claims,” Bean explained. “We would invite cosmetics companies to help ensure that advertising is truthful by challenging claims that they know to be false.”
For now, we hope advertisers will start to realize that prettily Photoshopped pictures don’t trump the truth.
Diana Denza is a regular contributor to BettyConfidential.