ASA Adjudication on L'Oréal (UK) Ltd
L'Oréal (UK) Ltd
255 Hammersmith Road
14 December 2011
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
McCann-Erickson Advertising Ltd
A TV ad for facial moisturiser and serum, viewed in August 2011, showed a young woman, who had been digitally altered to appear older, moving through an on-screen graphic effect and becoming young again. On-screen text stated "Fantasy Scene". The voice-over stated, "No moisturiser can make you grow young, but you can help reawaken skin's youthfulness day after day. Inspired by gene science, Youth Code Serum and Day Cream from L'Oreal Paris for a super charged boost of hydration. The proof is in the mirror. Skin looks smoother, more youthful, more luminous. Tried and tested on over a thousand women. And now indulge skin night after night with new Youth Code Night Cream. Skin looks rested and reawakened. Because you're worth it".
Three viewers challenged whether the ad, and in particular the transformation of the model from an older to a younger woman, misleadingly exaggerated the efficacy of the products.
L'Oreal (UK) Ltd (L'Oreal) said the ad stated at the start that "no moisturiser can make you grow young" and they believed that was a clear statement of fact that no product, including those advertised, could make someone grow young again. L'Oreal explained that the sole intention of the accompanying dramatisation of the older woman becoming young was to visualise that statement, and was not intended to demonstrate product efficacy. They believed the average consumer would understand that the transformation shown was an obvious exaggeration and not achievable using a moisturiser. L'Oreal said the scene was fantastical and futuristic and that the qualifying on-screen text "Fantasy scene" was included to further emphasise that the visuals were fantastic in nature.
L'Oreal said the ad explained that, while no product could make you young, Youth Code day cream and serum could help to reawaken skin's youthful appearance day after day. They said that the products had been designed to intensely nourish the skin with moisture and that they contained a number of well-known emollients. L'Oreal explained that water was essential for the normal functioning of the skin, and that without that essential ingredient skin became dry, dull and lost radiance. They said the day cream and serum reawakened skin's youthfulness by leaving skin looking smoother, more youthful and luminous, and that the performance of the products had been tried and tested in various consumer use tests by over 1000 women. L'Oreal provided summaries of those tests.
Clearcast said they believed the combination of the woman transforming by about 30 years into a younger woman, the on-screen text "Fantasy scene" and voice-over claim "No moisturiser can make you grow young" made it clear that the scene did not represent a genuine product demonstration. They had therefore approved the visuals in the ad on that basis, and believed that consumers would understand the limits and abilities of the products. Clearcast said the claims had been reviewed by their consultant who was happy with the way they were worded and the evidence to support them.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the 'transformation' scene, alongside the claim "No moisturiser can make you grow young...", to be fantastical and would not interpret it literally to mean that the advertised products would make them younger. Rather, we considered that consumers would understand the overall impression of the ad to be that the Youth Code products offered increased hydration for the skin and thereby made the skin appear more youthful.
We noted from the consumer use test information provided that the female participants had rated the day cream and serum positively, both when used alone and in combination, against parameters relating to youthful and younger looking skin, as well as to a smoother and more luminous appearance. We therefore considered that the tests supported the claims made in the ad, and concluded that it was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.4 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Substantiation) and 3.12 (Exaggeration) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.