US Beauty PR: Photoshop Use Banned in Wrinkle Cream Marketing

We’ve heard the buzzing about L’Oreal ads being banned in the U.K. due to photo manipulation. First it was the Telescopic Mascara ad with Penelope Cruz, then the Lancome ad with Julia Roberts–one made lashes appear miraculously full and the other made Robert’s (normal) wrinkles disappear. Christy Turlington also seems to be wrinkle-free in her Maybelline ads. Taking a page from weight loss advertisements, we’ve begun to see fine print emerge in the likes of CoverGirl ads stating that lash inserts were used in the advertisements (LashBlast). In other words, what you see is not what you may get (i.e. results not typical…if at all.)

Now in the US, the National Advertising Division, has banned photo manipulation in beauty advertisements. Until the internet’s very public call-outs about celebs looking flawless in magazine spreads and photoshopping mishap headlines, most consumers were oblivious to the truth behind these ads. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty began to put a spotlight on it, and the public’s desire for realness in ads grew.

Brands cannot continue to erase every conceivable flaw in a photograph and should not be allowed to make unsubstantiated claims. Fuller lashes? Prove it. Diminish fine lines? Then show an image that still shows some wrinkles…diminished, but not gone entirely. Simultaneously, there are things that detract from a photograph—bad lighting, red eyes, a blemish, shadows, stray hairs — it happens. Editing makes for a better picture. A model can have amazing skin, but one stray hair and suddenly the consumer is no longer focused on how well your product works because they are distracted. Yes, we need a measure of reality in advertising. However, brands should be allowed some photoshopping (within limits) to represent their product in the best possible way.

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Sonya Hartland

Sonya Hartland is a partner and Chief Strategy Officer at Pierce Mattie. Sonya’s areas of expertise include strategic brand building, earned and paid content from press and influencers, and experiential and affiliate marketing. An avid animal lover and occasional canine foster mom, Sonya volunteers with a local animal rescue.

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