ASA Adjudication on L'Oreal (UK) Ltd
L'Oreal (UK) Ltd t/a
255 Hammersmith Road
27 July 2011
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
A two-page magazine ad for "Teint Miracle" foundation by Lancôme featured an image of Julia Roberts. Text stated "Now, Aura is our science. NEW TEINT MIRACLE NATURAL LIGHT CREATOR - BARE SKIN PERFECTION - Aura is natural light emanating from beautiful skin. We can reproduce this. 10 years of research, 7 patents pending: Lancôme invents its 1st foundation that recreates the aura of perfect skin. Instantly complexion appears naturally bare, beautifully flawless and luminous, as if lit from within. See yourself in a new light".
Jo Swinson MP challenged whether the ad was misleading because she believed the flawless skin in the image was the result of digital manipulation, not the product.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
L’Oreal (UK) Ltd (Lancôme) said the image was taken by Mario Testino, who was well known for taking flattering photographs of his subjects. They said he used a lot of light, which was flattering, and reduced the appearance of imperfections by giving the image a soft focus and lower resolution.
Lancôme said the flawless skin in the image was also due to Julia Roberts’ naturally healthy and glowing skin, and supplied pictures of her on the red carpet to support that. They said consideration should also be given to the fact the image was in the context of an ad for foundation, a product which was designed to cover skin flaws and imperfections.
Lancôme said the product’s main selling point was its ability to illuminate skin and make it appear glowing. They said the ad therefore focused on luminosity and glowing skin, and was an aspirational picture of beautiful radiant skin. They said the product was developed after 10 years of research on the optical properties of the skin, and provided details of how the product could reinforce the skin’s radiance and improve its ability to reflect light. They also provided a table of consumer testing scores for the product, including the finding that the consumers tested felt the product made their complexion look more radiant and luminous.
Lancôme provided detail of the post production techniques used in the ad, but said they did not consider those changes related to characteristics directly relevant to the performance of the product, and maintained the ad provided an aspirational picture of what could be achieved by using the product. They provided before and after laboratory pictures of testers wearing the product, saying the pictures showed the product provided efficient coverage and created a glow on the wearer’s face.
The ASA acknowledged that Julia Roberts was an actress well known for her beauty, and that professional styling and make-up were used to create the image. We understood that high quality studio photography, and the inherent covering and smoothing nature of the product also contributed to the image of flawless skin.
We noted that in addition to the factors above, the image was produced with the assistance of post production techniques. While Lancôme provided detail on the techniques they used, we noted that we had not been provided with information that allowed us to see what effect those enhancements had on the final image. We acknowledged the pictures supplied from laboratory testing were evidence that the product was capable of improving skin’s appearance, but on the basis of the evidence we had received we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve, and that the image had not been exaggerated by digital post production techniques. We therefore concluded the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.11 (Exaggeration).
The ad must not appear in its current form again.