A two-page magazine ad for an anti-wrinkle cream, in September 2011 featured a close-up, black and white picture of the actress Rachel Weisz. Text in red stated "'DOING 10 THINGS AT ONCE ... IT'S WHAT WE DO' Rachel Weisz". The opposite page was headlined “NEW REVITALIFT REPAIR 10 OUR 1ST MULTI-TASKING ANTI-AGEING MOISTURISER TARGETS 10 SIGNS OF AGEING IN ONE” and featured a picture of the advertised product. Text in a list on the right stated “WRINKLES APPEAR REDUCED; SKIN LOOKS SMOOTHER; SKIN FEELS FIRMER; SKIN IS HYDRATED; SKIN FEELS MORE TONED; SKIN FEELS MORE SUPPLE; COMPLEXION LOOKS MORE EVEN; SKIN IS LUMINOUS; SKIN TEXTURE FEELS REFINED; SKIN LOOKS PLUMPER; IT’S NOT A FACELIFT, IT’S REVITALIFT”.
Jo Swinson MP challenged whether the ad was misleading, because she believed that the image of Rachel Weisz had been digitally manipulated and therefore misrepresented the results that the product could achieve.
L'Oréal (UK) Ltd t/a L'Oréal Paris (L'Oréal Paris) said they had developed Revitalift Repair 10 (Revitalift) to target the signs of ageing in the ways described in the ad. They said the ad sought to represent Rachel Weisz as favourably as possible and therefore every effort had gone into ensuring the most flattering set-up. They said Rachel Weisz had been professionally styled and made-up and then lit and shot by a professional photographer in a studio setting. They said the photo was shot using a lot of light in order to make the picture more flattering and to reduce the appearance of imperfections in the ensuing image by giving the image a soft focus and lower resolution. They said the black and white medium was also more flattering than a colour photograph and pointed out that the ASA had previously ruled that cosmetics ads could present their product in the best possible light.
L'Oréal Paris said, as a responsible advertiser, they wished to ensure that they were compliant with the Code and the associated CAP guidance. They provided the ASA with images and information which showed what level of post-production had taken place to the image.
The ASA considered that consumers were likely to expect a degree of glamour in images for beauty products and would therefore expect Rachel Weisz to have been professionally styled and made-up for the photo shoot, and to have been photographed professionally. We also acknowledged that advertisers were keen to present their products in their most positive light using techniques such as post-production enhancement and the re-touching of images. We considered that approach was acceptable so long as the resulting effect was not one which misleadingly exaggerated the effect that the product was capable of achieving.
We noted that the ad made a number of claims in relation to the product. We considered that the claims that Revitalift made skin feel firmer, toned, supple and refined related to tactile, rather than visible, effects and would therefore not be represented in the image. We also considered that the claim that skin appeared plumper and hydrated were acceptable claims for a moisturising product.
With regard to the remaining claims, we referred to the material provided by L'Oréal Paris. Although we considered that the image in the ad did not misrepresent the luminosity or wrinkling of Rachel Weisz’s face, we considered that the image had been altered in a way that substantially changed her complexion to make it appear smoother and more even. We therefore concluded that the image in the ad therefore misleadingly exaggerated the performance of the product in relation to the claims “SKIN LOOKS SMOOTHER” and “COMPLEXION LOOKS MORE EVEN”.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told L'Oréal Paris to ensure that they did not use post-production techniques in a way that misrepresented what was achievable using the advertised product.