L’Oréal to change ad over ‘no good at maths’ tagline complaint


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Actress Helen Mirren appears in the ad in question
Actress Helen Mirren appears in the ad in question

Related tags Advertising

L’Oréal Paris UK is dropping its ‘no good at maths’ tagline from its latest advertising after it received complaints from National Numeracy that the negative remark was damaging.

The ad in question features actress and brand ambassador Helen Mirren in which she says the line: “Age is just a number. And maths was never my thing.”

The numeracy charity, which was established in 2012 with the aim of improving everyday maths skills among adults and children and changing negative attitudes to maths, raised the issue with the cosmetics maker on Twitter stating its disappointment that poor maths skills were being highlighted in an advert for a beauty product.

Decision welcomed

It has since welcomed L’Oréal’s decision to drop the ad and commended it for acting on the complaint so quickly.

“Throwaway remarks about being ‘no good at maths’ are so easy to make and so damaging in the way they normalise negative attitudes,”​ says Mike Ellicock, National Numeracy chief executive.

“It’s unusual for a company to recognise and remedy their error in the way that L’Oréal have, so we really appreciate their response.”

"We know that women and girls often have particularly low levels of confidence – and particularly high levels of anxiety – about maths. So it’s especially important that advertising directed at them doesn’t perpetuate the myth that women can’t do maths.”


On receiving the tweet, L’Oréal Paris replied to National Numeracy, saying “Thanks for raising this, we hadn’t meant it to be interpreted this way. We’re changing it right away & you’ll see new ads soon.”

L’Oréal Paris says the comment was meant to be a playful reference to ageing and was never intended to be interpreted as negative towards maths.

L’Oréal have been strong supporters of women in STEM through their L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science fellowship programme and recently extended this in the UK to offer a £15,000 fellowship for female postdoctoral researchers in mathematics or engineering.

The company also support getting young people involved in the sciences through the L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre at the Royal Institution.

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