You Mean That’s NOT Real?

by PJ on Sunday, July 29, 2007

in makeup,makeup - mascara,What do you think? Beauty topics and thoughts

(Helena Rubinstein Lash Queen Waterproof Mascara ad,
p. 26-27, August 2006, Biteki magazine)

We all know that beauty ads are often about visual impact. Pores are blurred, lines are erased, makeup is retouched, and hair is re-textured. Perfection is what we aspire to, and it is what they are presenting.

Last week, UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found L’Oréal in breach of advertising rules after they admitted that, in their TV ad for Telescopic Mascara, Penelope Cruz wore false eyelashes. In their future ads, L’Oréal must include a statement in the ad if false lashes are used. Apart from this, L’Oréal will have to make it clear whether claims like “up to 60% longer lashes” refer to the appearance, not the actual length. (Read the full story in The Guardian.)

I wonder why ASA didn’t do this earlier, but I also wonder whether there is any point in doing it.

Have a look at a few more ads:

(Helena Rubinstein Surrealist Mascara ad,
p. 28-29, October 2006, Biteki magazine)

(Clinique Lash Power Mascara ad,
p. 92-93, August 2006, Biteki magazine)

(L’Oréal Volume Shocking Waterproof Mascara ad,
p. 84-85, August 2006, Biteki magazine)

(Notice that three of the four ads appear in the same issue.)

Obviously, there is a difference between stylized eyelashes above and false eyelashes that are meant to blend in with and enhance the real ones. But, in certain contexts, the difference is almost irrelevant. While I do believe in transparent advertising, I do think most of us consumers are (and should be) savvy enough to know what to take away from advertisements. Some ads are more visual than informational, and they are designed to appeal to our senses more than anything else.

Here is a spoof of the TV ad in a comedy sketch show (aired on BBC several months ago), which is very funny but makes a similar point.

One random thought: At least we can put on false eyelashes if we want to, whereas we can’t digitally enhance our image in others’ (or our) eyes……