It may be a new year but it seems cosmetics companies are still getting caught out for misleading consumers, as a UK watchdog has pulled up press ads by Transformulas International over claims made about its eye gel.
A national press ad, for Transformulas EyeLifting Gel, featuring a photograph of a woman's face which had been divided into "Before" and "After 30 seconds" sections, was reported to the Advertising Standards Authority for potentially exaggerated the efficacy of the advertised product.
The complainant believed the result (the eye in the "After 30 seconds" section of the face appeared lifted and showed a higher eyebrow than the "Before" section) was the effect of a raised eyebrow and not the product; which the ASA agreed with.
“We examined the original 'Before' and 'After 30 seconds' photographs sent by Transformulas and noted the overall appearance of the woman's face, and in particular, the area around the eyes did not appear significantly different, aside from the fact that the 'After 30 seconds' photo included fewer shadows,” said an ASA statement.
Furthermore, the UK watchdog noted the 'Before' photographs already showed the models left eyebrow higher than the right, and that sections of the image in the ad were of opposite sides of the woman's face and therefore did not provide a representation of the effects of the product on the same area.
Transformulas argued that the lift on the eyebrow was the result of using the advertised product and not a facial movement.
It even provided a trial on the advertised product and a summary of a trial using Kigelia africana, a constituent ingredient of the advertised product.
Not sufficient evidence
However, ASA was concerned that the trial of the product itself and of Kigelia africana, did not show the effect of the product after 30 seconds.
“We were concerned that the trial using Kigelia africana related only to a single ingredient of the advertised product, was performed on a single person and related to the application of the ingredient to the breast and not the face, as was shown in the ad,” it continues.
Also, due to the "After 30 seconds" section of the image misleadingly representing the efficacy of the product and because the trials submitted were not sufficiently robust to demonstrate the efficacy of the product, the ASA concluded that the ad was likely to mislead, and subsequently banned it.