Right on the heels of L’Oreal pulling their latest round of ads depicting Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington from the UK after accusations of over-airbrushing, CNN set out to determine what level of truth women expect from beauty advertisements… or whether they expect truth at all. To help them get to the bottom of it, they consulted none other than Just Ask a Woman’s Founder and CEO, Mary Lou Quinlan, who assured them every step in advertising is a deliberate one.
I didn’t mean to shill for the entire beauty industry but someone had to tell the whole truth about beauty ads. While the over the top promises and pictures in the category are cannon fodder for women on a rant, the truth is that the standards governing beauty claims are pretty darn severe. There’s a long list of watchdogs who try to keep brands honest: corporate internal R&D and legal, governmental agencies, the TV network’s standards folks, their competitors who leap on a dime….and the women who decide to buy or not.
I’d like to believe that most of these groups are motivated to do right rather than wrong. And brand managers and their ad agencies have to play the roles of both creative and cop to avoid making the kind of mistake that these ads just made.
The ads with Julia and Christy were what might be called lies of omission. They left out the lines and wrinkles for sure. But worse, they left out the truth of why those two icons are so aspirational for so many women. They are both women with real years of growth, as mothers, as daughters, as businesswomen, as philanthropists, as women whose authenticity is what gives them appeal (though I still wish Julia hadn’t snagged her husband from someone else.) They weren’t as beautiful with experience so totally erased. Whole truth indeed.
To read more about women’s expectations and advertisers’ master plans, check out the full article on CNN Living.
To read more about the newest tricks of the cosmetics industry, check out our take on Sephora’s newest service.
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