In the past month the ASA criticised Procter & Gamble for its Olay advertising campaign that featured a clearly touched up image of the model Twiggy, while Johnson & Johnson was criticised for the before and after images it used for its Clean and Clear spot control kit.
Following viewer complaints to the watchdog, both the television advertising campaigns have been withdrawn after the ASA investigated and ruled that the ads breached its code of practice.
In both cases the ASA said that the campaigns were likely to mislead consumers, as the images used to promote the products had clearly been altered.
In the case of P&G’s Olay campaign, individuals had complained that the images of Twiggy used to promote the Definitely eye illuminator product had clearly been airbrushed to make the model look years younger.
P&G admits to 'minor retouching'
P&G conceded that during the latter stages of production the image had been given some ‘minor retouching’ around the model’s eyes, which it said was inconsistent with its own policies.
Meanwhile, viewers had complained that the Johnson & Johnson’s Clean & Clear campaign had demonstrated the effect of using the product by images that had also been clearly enhanced.
In its defense, Johnson & Johnson had claimed that all make-up had been removed for both the before and after shots, however it did concede that a light powder was applied for the after shots to remove shine from the T-zone.
ASA rulings can have global reach
As a consumer watchdog, the ASA traditionally been cited as a source for setting industry standards on advertising both in the UK and throughout Europe.
However, the fact that both Johnson & Johnson and P&G are US-based global personal care players also means that that the repercussions of the ASA ruling are likely to carry through to the companies’ advertising campaigns worldwide.
These ASA rulings are the latest in a series of similar moves over the past year that focus on advertising claims that use enhanced images by cosmetics companies, but with the biggest names in the business still getting caught out, the watchdog is likely to remain busy.