Advertising watchdog upholds Jo Swinson MP’s complaints about overly airbrushed ads

The Guardian reports:

L’Oréal has been forced to pull ad campaigns featuring Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts and supermodel Christy Turlington, after the advertising watchdog upheld complaints by Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson that the images were overly airbrushed.

Swinson, who has waged a long-running campaign against “overly perfected and unrealistic images” of women in adverts, lodged complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority about the magazine campaigns for L’Oréal-owned brands Lancôme and Maybelline. The ASA ruled that both ads breached the advertising standards code for exaggeration and being misleading and banned them from future publication.

L’Oréal’s two-page ad featuring Roberts, who is the face of Lancôme, promoted a foundation called Teint Miracle, which it claims creates a “natural light” that emanates from beautiful skin. It was shot by renowned fashion photographer Mario Testino. The ad for Maybelline featured Turlington promoting a foundation called The Eraser, which is claimed to be an “anti-ageing” product. In the ad, parts of Turlington’s face are shown covered by the foundation while other parts are not, in order to show the effects of the product.

Swinson complained that images of both celebrities had been digitally manipulated and were “not representative of the results the product could achieve”.

Commenting on the ruling, Jo Swinson said:

This ruling demonstrates that the advertising regulator is acknowledging the dishonest and misleading nature of excessive retouching. Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don’t reflect reality. With one in four people feeling depressed about their body, it’s time to consider how these idealised images are distorting our idea of beauty.

Shockingly, even the ASA weren’t contractually allowed to see the pre-production photo of Julia Roberts. It shows just how ridiculous things have become when there is such fear over an unairbrushed photo that even the advertising regulator isn’t permitted to see it. Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm, but both Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts are naturally beautiful women who don’t need retouching to look great. This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers – let’s get back to reality.

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  • Yes, definitely the most relevant and important issue facing us all.

    The Pravda-like ignoring of yesterday’s “growth” figures and the damning report on what LibDems are doing to sick/disabled people is epic!

  • Kirsten de Keyser 27th Jul '11 - 9:36am

    Brilliant result!
    Now let’s widen this campaign to all fraudulent advertising.

  • Oh blimey – I use this foundation, will I now have to label all photos on my election addresses with a health warning: “Beware, underneath the make-up this candidate has bad skin”?

  • Daniel Henry 27th Jul '11 - 12:57pm

    Only if you were naughty enough to digitally enhance the photos.

    It’s not the make-up that’s being complained about, it’s the way advertisers are using digital enhancements on photos to exaggerate the effects of their product. It’s a form of fraud. (as well as having the negative psychological effects that Jo mentioned)

  • I’m just wondering, do naturally stunning women have the same negative psychological effects?

  • Ruth Bright 27th Jul '11 - 3:02pm

    Daniel Henry – I plead guilty as charged – Jo needs to stop all party training events which show you how to use photoshop!

  • Daniel Henry 27th Jul '11 - 4:58pm

    Lol! Photoshop abuse in focuses?
    You know, it never occured to me that the graffiti and potholes being pointed might not actually exist…

  • Ruth Bright 27th Jul '11 - 6:15pm


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