A TV ad for home hair dye showed the actress Christina Hendricks, with red hair. She stated, “I’ve been the same shade of red for many years. I think it’s time to change it up. Goodbye red, hello golden blonde.” She was shown with blonde hair and text on screen stated “GOLDEN BLONDE”.
Two viewers, a senior hair colour educator and a hair colour educator, who understood the colour change depicted could not have been achieved using the product alone, challenged whether the ad misleadingly exaggerated the capability of the product.
Procter & Gamble (Health & Beauty Care) Ltd (P&G) said the colour change depicted in the ad was from Nicen’ Easy red shade 6R (natural light auburn) to blonde shade 8G (natural honey blonde). They said the TV ad was first broadcast in April 2015, before which the colour transformation was kept secret. Prior to that, the first phase of the TV campaign had shown Christina Hendricks with red hair only. For the ‘blonde’ ad, P&G first coloured her hair using shade 8G in October 2014 and shot the part of the ad that showed her with blonde hair a few days later. Christina Hendricks’ hair was then dyed using the red shade on the following day after filming, with the part of the TV ad that showed her with red hair being shot the day after that. The shoots both took place in October 2014, in order to ensure the planned broadcast dates were met.
Although they would ideally have shot the ‘red’ part of the ad first, because colouring hair more than once in quick succession was not recommended, and Christina Hendricks had limited availability around the time of the shoots, P&G had decided to dye her hair only twice, rather than colouring it with the red shade and then blonde, and back again. They were conscious that particular care needed to be taken for reasons of hair health and it was also important that her hair was red after the shoots, because the new shade was not yet to be publicly revealed. Also in order to care for her hair, it had been agreed that the model would not colour her hair for around eight weeks before it was dyed blonde. However, P&G said it was still reflective of Nicen’ Easy shade 6R, a dark red, when they had coloured her hair blonde in October 2014, and they submitted a photo that was taken around two weeks earlier to demonstrate that.
After the October 2014 TV shoots, Christina Hendricks used the same red shade until during March 2015, when her hair was again coloured with the blonde shade in order to prepare for a press ‘reveal’ and to ensure P&G were in a position to substantiate the claims in the new TV ad. They said that had been the best way to obtain support for the claims while fitting in with the model’s schedule. P&G said the colourist had confirmed that he had used the Nicen’ Easy consumer product alone, and in accordance with the instructions, both for the TV shoot and the press announcement. He did not use any other products that would affect hair colour, and he had also confirmed that Christina Hendricks’ hair was reflective of Nicen’ Easy shade 6R at the time he dyed it blonde again in March 2015. They provided a signed statement from the colourist that related to that occasion, along with a signed statement from Christina Hendricks and ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots, from both the ad and the press announcement. They believed those photos demonstrated the similarity of both the red and blonde shades in October 2014 and March 2015, taking into account that the images from the ad were taken under bright studio lights and subject to the grading that was required for TV ads. P&G said no post-production was carried out on the hair colour or on the rest of the hair, aside from removing some flyaway strands.
They said blonde shade 8G had 9% hydrogen peroxide, which was considered a high level based on published literature. The believed the typical hydrogen peroxide concentration range for hair colour was 3–8%, dependent on shade. Their position was that both their analysis and published literature demonstrated that a high concentration could lighten hair up to three or four levels, whereas the alteration shown in the ad was two levels and therefore well within the range possible for the product. They provided quotations from published literature to support that point. P&G said the colour change was easily achievable using the product alone and considered the ad did not misleadingly exaggerate its benefits.
Clearcast said they had considered whether the ad reflected an achievable transformation, and had received an explanation from P&G that confirmed it was possible to achieve the effect shown, a change of two shades lighter, by using the product alone. They submitted that explanation, along with a chart P&G had provided them with to support claims about the natural look of the product. Clearcast also believed the ad did not exaggerate its capability.
The ASA considered viewers were likely to understand the ad to mean the colour change shown could be achieved using the Nicen’ Easy product alone, when dying hair from the type of red shade depicted, to a similar blonde shade to that in the ad. We acknowledged there were practical reasons for P&G having shot the ‘blonde’ part of the ad first. However, we noted the colour effects shown had been achieved firstly by colouring the model’s hair to blonde after it had not been coloured for around eight weeks, and then by dying her hair from blonde to a vibrant red, whereas the impression given by the ad was that the effect had been produced when changing from the red shade to the blonde.
We noted the photo that was intended to demonstrate the colour of Christina Hendricks’ hair before it was dyed blonde for the TV shoots in October 2014. We acknowledged that it showed her hair was a dark red shade, which appeared similar to that in the images from the ad photoshoot. However, we considered it was not necessarily sufficient to demonstrate the colour of her hair almost two weeks later and were in any case concerned, as above, that the effect shown in the ad had not been achieved in the way suggested. In relation to the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos, while it was not possible to determine the extent to which the colour effect in the images from the TV ad was due to studio lighting and grading, we considered the red and blonde shades shown in the photos taken in 2015 were clearly less vibrant than those shown in the ad. For those reasons, we considered the evidence was not adequate to demonstrate that the effect shown in the TV ad could be achieved using the product alone.
Because the visual claim had not been substantiated, and given that the sequence in which the model’s hair was coloured leading up to the TV shoots did not match the depiction in the ad, we concluded that it misleadingly exaggerated the capability of the product.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is 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 3.12 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 Procter & Gamble (Health & Beauty Care) Ltd to ensure they were in a position to adequately substantiate their objective claims in future.