Does This Ad Deserve To Be Banned?

The British Advertising Standards Authority has blocked a Lancome ad featuring Julia Roberts and a Maybelline ad with Christy Turlington from publication because of complaints the images look overly Photoshopped. The companies, which are both owned by L’Oreal, acknowledged retouching them, say the images aren’t unbelievable.

But Jo Swinson, a member of Parliament, said in a complaint to the ASA that the images are “overly perfected and unrealistic,” according to The Guardian. In Roberts’ ad, for Lancome’s Teint Miracle foundation, her skin appears categorically flawless, while Turlington’s ad for Maybelline’s The Eraser shows portions of her skin with and without the product. (The portions of her face that haven’t been, um, erased, show nearly imperceptible wrinkles and dark spots.)

Swinson’s issue (and ours, too) is that Roberts’ ad makes her face look like it was created from wax and very soft rubber in a factory, and Turlington’s makes the product look like a few swipes of the stuff across one’s forehead would remove decades of natural aging. This is how the company explained what it did for Turlington’s ad:

L’Oréal UK admitted that Turlington’s image had been “digitally retouched to lighten the skin, clean up makeup, reduce dark shadows and shading around the eyes, smooth the lips and darken the eyebrows”. However, it claimed there were still signs of ageing, such as crow’s feet, and that the image “accurately illustrated” the achieveable results.

Yeah, right. If it wanted to give us an accurate image, it wouldn’t have to do any illustrating at all, now would it?

It seems we’ll never know the extent of Photoshopping applied to Roberts’ image, taken by photographer Mario Testino, because she has a contract with Lancome that stipulates it won’t release pre-production images of her. But the company told The Independent that she looks so good in the ad because her skin is naturally that flawless.

But if that’s the case, why the need for a contract that wouldn’t show what Roberts’ skin actually looks like? And if The Eraser really does erase all your problems, why would Turlington’s natural beauty need an assist from digital imaging software?

We suppose none of that matters now, at least not in the UK, where the ads have been banned. Swinson says the ban “sends a powerful message to advertisers – let’s get back to reality.” But for the rest of the world, be prepared to be assaulted with the unrealistic beauty of Roberts and Turlington, below:

[The Guardian, The Independent]

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