Scottish MP wins ban on 'altered image' ad

A SCOTTISH MP has succeeded in having a skin cream advert featuring Hollywood star Julia Roberts banned, after lodging a complaint with a watchdog about the photographs being airbrushed.

Jo Swinson successfully challenged that the ad for Teint Miracle foundation by Lancme was misleading because she believed the flawless skin in the image was the result of digital manipulation, not the product.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld her complaint about the glossy two-page ad and banned Lancme from using it again.

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Ms Swinson, Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire, has previously campaigned against airbrushing in glossy magazines.

The advert stated: "Aura is natural light emanating from beautiful skin. We can reproduce this. 10 years of research, 7 patents pending: Lancme invents its 1st foundation that recreates the aura of perfect skin. Instantly complexion appears naturally bare, beautifully flawless and luminous, as if lit from within. See yourself in a new light".

L'Oreal, owner of Lancme, said the image was taken by celebrity photographer Mario Testino, well known for taking flattering photographs of his subjects. The firm claimed he used a lot of light, which was flattering, and reduced the appearance of imperfections by giving the image a soft focus and lower resolution.

Lancme said the flawless skin in the image was also due to Roberts' "naturally healthy and glowing skin", and supplied pictures of her on the red carpet to support that.

Lancme provided details of the post-production techniques used in the ad, but said it did not consider those changes related to characteristics directly relevant to the performance of the product, and maintained the ad provided an aspirational picture of what could be achieved by using the product. The firm provided before and after laboratory pictures of testers wearing the product, saying the pictures showed the product provided efficient coverage and created a glow on the wearer's face.

However, the ASA upheld Ms Swinson's complaint, finding the ad to be in breach of rules on "misleading advertising" and "exaggeration" and ordered that it should not appear in its current form again.

Ms Swinson said: "This ruling demonstrates that the advertising regulator is acknowledging the dishonest and misleading nature of excessive retouching. Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don't reflect reality. With one in four people feeling depressed about their body, it's time to consider how these idealised images are distorting our idea of beauty."

An ASA spokesman said: "The ASA acknowledged that Julia Roberts was an actress well-known for her beauty, and that professional styling and make-up were used to create the image. We understood that high quality studio photography, and the inherent covering and smoothing nature of the product also contributed to the image of flawless skin. We noted that, in addition, the image was produced with the assistance of post production techniques.

"While Lancme provided detail on the techniques used, we had not been provided with information that allowed us to see what effect those enhancements had on the final image."