A magazine ad for mascara showed an image of Natalie Portman. The headline stated "Dior Show New Look" and text stated "Lash-multiplying effect volume and care mascara. The miracle of a nano brush for an unrivalled lash creator effect. It delivers spectacular volume-multiplying effect, lash by lash".
L'Oreal UK challenged whether the ad misleadingly exaggerated the likely effects of the product.
Parfums Christian Dior (UK) Ltd (Dior) said that they had not received any complaints from consumers and considered that that demonstrated that the ad did not go beyond the likely consumer expectations of what was achievable with the product. They stated that the ad was a stylised and aspirational ad intended to convey the luxury image and allure of the Diorshow Mascara and that consumers expected images used in ads for beauty products to have used professional styling and photography.
They said the image was originally produced for use in an ad for a lipstick product and it was subsequently decided that the image would be instead used for the mascara ad some time after the photograph was taken. They stated that Natalie Portman was wearing mascara and eyeliner in the ad, but was not wearing any individual false lashes or a false set of eyelashes during the shoot and, accordingly, no eyelash inserts were used in pre-production. They nonetheless considered that it should be taken into account that a significant number of women did wear false eyelashes as part of their regular beauty regime and they did not consider that the image went beyond the likely consumer expectations of what was achievable using the product as part of an ordinary beauty routine.
They said Natalie Portman's natural lashes were retouched digitally in post-production using the Photoshop CS5.1 software. They said the digital retouching was nearly exclusively in relation to her upper lashes and was primarily used to separate/increase the length and curve of a number of her lashes and to replace/fill a number of missing or damaged lashes, for a more stylised, uniform and tidy effect and a minimal amount of retouching took place in relation to increasing the thickness and volume of a number of her natural lashes. They said a primary element of the post-production retouching was to stylistically lengthen and curve her lashes and pointed out the ad's text did not contain any claims regarding the lengthening of lashes. Although they acknowledged that the text did contain claims regarding the product's thickness/volume effect, they stated that any retouching in that respect was minimal.
They said that by their nature, lashes were generally fine in appearance and various lashes or elements of lashes could be nearly invisible to the naked eye. They said they had a tendency to clump together and the multiple, high precision nano-brushes and serum treatment formula of the advertised mascara worked by capturing, separating, defining and fanning out individual lashes and by making individual and overall lashes appear more visible, lash by lash, in terms of their numbers, spread and thickness/volume and also their length, after the product was applied. They provided studies on the product which they considered supported that the lash multiplying effect, lash volume effect and any potential lash/lengthening/curving effect illustrated by the ad was achievable on natural unadorned lashes and they did not consider that the post-production techniques went beyond the likely consumer expectations of what was achievable using the product.
They understood that the complaint related specifically to claims that the product produced a lash multiplying effect and a lash volume effect, which they understood to mean a perceived, rather than actual, increase in lashes and their thickness volume. They considered that the studies supported the claim that the product was capable of producing the appearance of those effects on natural lashes and showed that the effects were in line with tests on actual consumers.
They provided further details of the studies, in which 31 women applied the mascara to their natural lashes over a period of four weeks and were evaluated on aspects of the immediate effects and after four weeks, relating to application, make-up results, the evolution of the make-up result through the day, the result over days, the tactile and visual assessment of the lashes for lash multiplying effect, lash volume effect and lengthening/curving effect. They also provided the details of the lash measurements and percentage increase obtained by use of the product in tests on 15 subjects, which they stated demonstrated a significant lengthening effect and curving effect, as well as three pictures showing a model's lashes before and after the product had been applied.
The ASA understood that the digital retouching was intended to separate/increase the length and curve of a number of Natalie Portman's lashes; to replace/fill a number of missing or damaged lashes; to increase the thickness and volume of a number of her natural lashes and, primarily, to stylistically lengthen and curve her lashes. We noted that the ad had therefore used post-production retouching on an area (namely the eyelashes) which was directly relevant to the apparent performance of the mascara product being advertised.
Although we noted Dior's view that the ad's text did not contain any claims regarding the lengthening of lashes, we considered that the ad's claims "Lash-multiplying effect volume and care mascara", "... an unrivalled lash creator effect" and "delivers spectacular volume-multiplying effect, lash by lash", particularly in conjunction with the image of Natalie Portman's eyelashes, would be understood to mean that the mascara could lengthen the lashes, as well as separate them, increase their thickness and volume, and generally enhance lash appearance.
We acknowledged that the survey results provided by Dior showed that the consumer evaluation of the product's effects was very positive in relation to a number of aspects surveyed, including the "tactile and visual assessment of the lashes" for the areas of "lash multiplying effect", "lash volume effect" and "lengthening/curving effect". Although we acknowledged that Dior had provided some before and after photos showing a model's natural eyelashes and the effects of the product on her lashes, we had not seen evidence of the product's effects on Natalie Portman's lashes where there had not been any post-production retouching and therefore considered we were unable to assess the effects of the post-production work on the image featured in the ad. We were concerned that we had not seen evidence that the visual representation of the product’s effects on Natalie Portman's lashes, as featured in the ad, could be achieved through use of the product only, particularly as we understood that post-production retouching on the lash area had taken place.
Because we considered that we had not seen sufficient evidence to show that the post-production retouching on Natalie Portman's lashes in the ad did not exaggerate the likely effects of the product, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead.
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), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) 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.