Hurrah! New Guidelines Tackle Misleading Cosmetics Ads ?

11 April 2011

You may remember that we recently, and most excitedly, brought you news of the world’s first unretouched make-up ad.  It’s a huge breakthrough for an industry that so heavily relies on being visually perfect and for consumers, brings welcome relief from the scores of air-brushed, enhanced, and retouched images used to sell us products which let’s face it, we have no idea what they’re actually capable of doing.
Several cosmetic giants have landed themselves in hot water with the ASA for falsely advertising their products. By enhancing their campaigns either in situ (lash inserts, hair extensions) or in post-production (air-brushing), consumers can easily be misled as to the effectiveness of the product in question and left baffled by its many claims of wonderment.
But we can once again rejoice because two organisations, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), have just released new advertising guidelines for the cosmetics industry.
The guidance covers three areas (pre-production, post-production and disclaimers) and seeks to offer both clarity for the advertiser and reassurance to the consumer.
This doesn’t mean that lash inserts for example are banned in mascara ads unless their use constitutes being misleading.  So if they are used to replace missing lashes, or to even up the lash line, then that's fine, but if they are used to lengthen lashes beyond what the product is capable of doing on natural lashes, that is a no-no. Similar principles apply to nail and hair extensions – airbrushing out wrinkles and lines around the eye area when advertising an eye cream or adding shine to hair which has used a product claiming to add shine is no longer acceptable. But minor adjustments to correct lighting problems, provided the image reflects the model are tolerable.
It will be interesting to see whether these guidelines will be adhered to by the industry and what impact this will have on the adverts we see.

Companies will now have to prove that their adverts are not misleading if questioned.  It sure will make a welcome change to assess the suitability of a product through its advert and not through a process of trial and error but we are left wondering if this will take the glamour out of our beloved cosmetics… But what do you think?
- Jo Oliver


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