Procter and Gamble (P&G) and Reckitt Benckiser have fallen out over a television advert for an epilator claiming the hair remover plucked out seven times more hair than waxing.
P&G brand Braun originally advertised the Silk-Epil hair remover by showing two women in short skirts surrounded by bubbles. One bubble pops as it hits the waxed leg of one woman, whereas another bounces off the leg of the woman who used the epilator.
Accompanying the images is a caption saying the epilator removes “7x more short hairs”.
Strip waxes do battle with epilators
Reckitt, which manufacturers Veet warm wax strips, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK stating that this claim was misleading.
The advertising watchdog agreed on examination of study data submitted by Braun. While the ASA admitted that the epilator did remove seven times more hairs of 0.5 mm, it found that the tool was far less effective at 2 mm, which it felt would still be considered short hair by the consumer.
Summing up, the ASA said: “Because the quoted figure applied only to the very shortest hairs and exaggerated the difference that would be achieved, we concluded that the claim was likely to mislead.”
The watchdog therefore told Braun that the ad should not be broadcast again in its current form.
Consumers misled over definition of short hairs
Reckitt had made two further complaints but these were dismissed by the ASA. It felt that by showing bubbles bouncing off epilated skin and popping on the waxed skin, the ad was misleading and wrongly implied that waxing would leave behind prickly hairs.
The ASA dismissed the suggestion saying consumers would not believe that a bubble could roll down someone’s leg and would instead consider the scene as a “visual metaphor for smoothness”.
The final complaint was that a graphic comparison of waxing and epilating misleadingly implied that waxing would leave behind longer hairs. ASA disagreed and accepted the Braun response that the hairs referred to in the graphic were all relatively short and therefore would not suggest that waxing leaves behind longer hairs.
Reckitt Benckiser was not just a complainant in the latest round of ASA adjudications. Four viewers of a TV ad for the Reckitt brand Clearasil, showing a boy crashing into a girl, knocking her to the ground and then kissing her, complained to the watchdog saying the ad was offensive and condoned sexual violence.
However, the ASA decided not to take action, ruling that the ad showed an “an awkward ‘boy meets girl’ scenario” that was unlikely to cause widespread offense or be seen to condone sexual violence.