A TV ad for an under-eye cream featured a voice-over which stated, "Seeing dark circles under the eyes? It can be fatigue, stress, age. And now, new Clinique Even Better Eyes takes eyes out of the shadows." The ad featured a pack-shot against a bright white background. The product was then applied beneath a model's eye whilst the voice-over stated, "Brightening up the appearance of the entire eye area." On-screen text stated "89% of 168 women agree". The model's face was then shown, brightly lit against a bright white background, and the voice-over continued, "You see it instantly. Even Better Eyes ..."
The viewer challenged whether the ad was misleading, because he believed the image of the model had been digitally manipulated and therefore misrepresented the results that the product could achieve.
Clinique Laboratories Ltd (Clinique) believed the ad made clear that the product was intended for use under the eyes to address the appearance of dark circles. The product was a tinted cream that contained brightening pigment so that when it was applied, it gave an instant brightening effect. The ad opened with a voice-over stating "Seeing dark circles under the eyes" and continued with "And new Clinique Even Better Eyes takes eyes out of the shadows". Later in the ad, there was a visual which highlighted the area under the eye where the product was intended to be used, with a concurrent voice-over stating "brightening the appearance of the entire eye area".
Clinique provided copies of "before" and "after" images of the model. They said that some post-production techniques had been used on the image, but the extent of them was limited and was not related to the performance attributes of the product. In particular, they had removed the slight red veins from the whites of the model's eyes and had made them slightly whiter. They had also removed the small moles or spots above her left eyebrow, on her cheek and upper lip. The colour of the model's lips and irises had been slightly altered and the reflections and highlights in her irises had been removed. They also removed some sideburn hairs and pierce holes in the model's ears as well as tidied up her ponytail. Clinique said none of the digital retouches related to the product's performance benefits and none were used to misrepresent or exaggerate the effects the product could achieve.
Clinique confirmed that the model's skin texture was not digitally manipulated. They said that in order to bring the viewer's focus to the eyes, the rest of the model's face was de-focused. The entire image was lighted for consistency in placement within the frames of the ad.
Clearcast re-iterated that the product contained lightening pigments to give the eye area an instant visible boost when applied. They believed the ad accurately reflected that and accurately represented the way the product worked. They said it was clear from Clinique's response that the image had not been digitally manipulated in such a way that misrepresented the results that the product could achieve.
THIS ADJUDICATION WAS AMENDED FOLLOWING INDEPENDENT REVIEW. THE WORDING HAS BEEN CHANGED BUT THE DECISION TO UPHOLD REMAINS.
The ASA understood that Clinique had carried out some digital re-touching on the image of the model in the ad, and that some of the re-touching had been carried out on her eyes. For example, they had removed the veins from the whites of her eyes and made them whiter, altered the colour of her irises to make them darker and had removed the reflections and highlights in her irises. We considered that the model’s eyes appeared brighter in the “after” photo, compared to the “before” photo, and that this was due to the post-production techniques.
We noted the ad contained a visual showing the product being applied and, as the applicator moved along the under-eye area, a sparkly light emanated from its tip. We also noted that in the final shot of the model, her face had been defocused, except for her eyes, and that her skin, including the under-eye area, appeared illuminated.
We noted the ad claimed that the product would brighten up the appearance of the entire eye area. Taking into account the sparkly light effect in the visual which brightened the under-eye area and the soft focus effect applied to the model's face which made her skin (including the under-eye area) appear illuminated, we considered these effects were directly relevant to the claimed performance of the product and gave a misleading impression about the performance capabilities of the product. We therefore concluded that the ad misleadingly exaggerated the results the product could achieve.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Standards set to secure the standards objectives [specified in para 3(e) above] shall in particular contain provision designed to secure that religious programmes do not involve:
a) any improper exploitation of any susceptibilities of the audience for such a programme; or
b) any abusive treatment of the religious views and beliefs of those belonging to a particular religion or religious denomination."
Section 319(6). (Misleading advertising) and 3.12 3.12 Advertisements must not mislead by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product or service. (Exaggeration).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Clinique to ensure that they do not use post-production techniques in a way that misrepresents what is achievable using the advertised product in future.