Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington Ads Deemed Overly Photoshopped, Banned in Britain

Advertising watchdog prohibits future publication of makeup ads featuring movie star and supermodel after upholding complaints that images were exaggerated and misleading

By Gina Serpe Jul 27, 2011 4:24 PMTags
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Maybe she's born with it? More like, maybe she has a team of professional makeup artists, industrial-grade lighting, a team of qualified Photoshoppers, and an airbrush specialist.

At least, that's the case with Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington, whose makeup ads—for Lancôme and Maybelline, respectively—have been banned in the U.K. over complaints that the images projected in the campaigns were unrealistic and misleading.

In related news, the world continues to spin on its axis.

L'Oréal Ltd., which owns both beauty brands, has been forced to pull the ads featuring the apparently less-pretty-than-projected woman and the supermodel after the U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority upheld complaints brought by MP Jo Swinson claiming that the images were overly airbrushed, otherwise manipulated, and "not representative of the results the product could achieve."

The images in question came from Roberts' two-page spread for Lancôme's Teint Miracle foundation, shot, as it happens, by Mario Testino, and Turlington's campaign for Maybelline's The Eraser foundation.

The ASA ruled that images of both breached the advertising standards code by exaggerating the effects of their products and by generally being misleading to consumers. As a result, both have been banned from future publication across the pond.

On Roberts' ad, Swinson challenged the company's claims that the foundation gave the appearance of skin with a "natural light," glowing from within. She said the image was more likely the result of digital manipulation…and the ASA, obviously, agreed.

Lancôme responded to the claims, saying that Testino is known for his flattering photos, and Julia is known for her glowing skin, but admitted that the image was attained by using "a soft focus and lower resolution" and was intended to be an image of "aspiration."

Plus, "consideration should also be given to the fact the image was in the context of an ad for foundation, a product which was designed to cover skin flaws and imperfections."

Cover skin flaws and imperfections, but not, apparently, the company's tracks.

For their part, the ASA conceded that, yes, Julia's a looker, it's a makeup ad and Testino is at the top of his game for a reason, but that just wasn't good enough.

"In addition to the factors above, the image was produced with the assistance of post-production techniques…on the basis of the evidence we had received, we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve, and that the image had not been exaggerated by digital post-production techniques. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading," they said in their ruling.

Likewise went the ruling on Turlington's ad, as the ASA said it was simply not provided with enough information to determine what impact was made by lighting and makeup and which were achieved by digital enhancements.

So that fakery has been banned, too. Now that's a beautiful thing.