Gotta Watch: Fake advertising, or smart marketing?
On the left, Julia Roberts in a Lancome advertisement. On the right, a Getty image of Julia Roberts on the red carpet.
July 28th, 2011
12:08 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Fake advertising, or smart marketing?

Let’s be honest, you don’t look at a beauty advertisement in a magazine and really believe that the perfectly creamy skin or those cellulite-free thighs on the model is natural, do you? We all know there is a level of retouching that’s going on there. But does the promise of a perfect complexion like that model in the ad make you want to buy that product anyway? Maybe. While it’s become understood that photos are retouched before they hit the inside of a magazine, newspaper or airwaves, the United Kingdom is saying no more! A U.K. politician challenged two L'Oreal ads featuring Julia Roberts for Lancôme and Christy Turlington for Maybelline because of the use of digital manipulation.

Beyonce's lighter side – In 2008, L’Oreal released an advertisement for hair color that featured a lighter-looking Beyonce Knowles, sparking controversy and allegations of racism against L’Oreal for digitally lightening her black skin. L’Oreal denied any suggestion that they altered Beyonce’s skin tone or features.

Real beauty – In 2004, Dove launched its “Campaign for Real Beauty,” releasing numerous advertisements and commercials featuring images of real women and girls to inspire women around the world to be confident in their own skin. In 2006, Dove went further and released a commercial that exposed the false imagery of a beauty advertisement, showing a model being primped and prodded for hours to be made to look “perfect” only for the photo to be further tweaked by airbrushing. See the ad here.

Do you think it’s false advertising to alter a celebrity’s or model’s appearance in an ad? Or should all ads be taken with a grain of salt?

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soundoff (343 Responses)
  1. frances

    truth in advertising. RIGHT

    July 29, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      This is retarded. The advertising world has been making products (and yes models are considered products) look bigger than life so people will buy them. Every commercial you look at with a model, famous person, or hell even food has been doctored so much they no longer represent reality.

      People who think that television or magazine ads are real are truly dumb. In our new world of being P.C. it is getting beyond ridiculous. U.K. banning an ad due to it being touched up is my proverbial straw on the camels back. How about this? Parents teach their kids about the facts of life.... false advertising being one of them!

      July 29, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Yahko

      To Jason: The problem is that those adds are accessible to the much younger generation that not necessarily knows whats real and whats Photoshopped. I completely agree with that ban on the add because its so manipulated and not real and a picture worth a thousand words.

      I know that celebs are selling makeup and drinks and insurance etc. But its a much more direct audience and I dont think there is something wrong with seeing a current celebrity like Karry Perry promoting the new Dr Pepper can. This is smart advertising where you know the public knows who she is so we might as well use her to sell our product. But when it comes to manipulating images and twitching the truth that has a great effect, especially on the female audience, this is where the line should be drawn and I'm glad that some one in the government does stand up for those things.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • roland sac

      There is a fine line between enhancing a picture or lying about what a product will do.Apparently after applying Ms. Robertson's make up the picture was further enhanced by silk screening.That by itself is deceptive.

      July 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. eddantes

    I always wonder what people see in this girl, what is it? the way I see it Julia Roberts and Sarah Jessica Parker look like they belong at a stable…
    A horse walks into a bar, why the long face? The bartender asks.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • RichieP

      Bitter much?

      July 29, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • eddantes

      RichieP, I tell you, I see far more beautiful women just walking around the streets of Manhattan than Julia Roberts. I don’t think she’s as hot as Hollywood portraits her to be, I call it as I see it, she has a long face and a big mouth, she could be the related to the joker, who knows?

      July 29, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. Cindy

    Before you get all misty-eyed over Dove's honesty and their commitment to "real" women, think about this: during that ad campaign, Dove offered free tee shirts for real women who bought their products. The only thing is, the shirts came only in sizes small and medium. So, Dove is saying that it's ok to be real- but not too real?

    July 29, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Michele

      No, they're saying be real and not fat.

      July 29, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Luckers

      I think they were saying 'We're giving these t-shirts away for free, but don't want to spend too much on fabric.'

      July 29, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • eville_11

      too real = fat?

      July 29, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. L123

    I personally wish more companies would follow Dove's lead because as a women I find more realistic advertising much more appealing. I don't think that retouching equals false advertising though. It's 2011, even the least advertising saavy consumer is aware that that retouching happens. Also if they start banning it in print advertising, what would be next, magazine covers, TV commercials, music albums? All have heavyily retouched (I worked in NYC for ad agencies for 4 years...)

    July 29, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Jew_mo

      L123, there is a HUGE difference in purchasing a cd of your favourite band, and buying eye cream. If I'm buying a beauty product, I think the advertisements should be real. Real results representing a real product. Otherwise, it's like putting a picute of a black-haired beauty on the cover of a box containing red hair colour. Sure the pitcure is pretty, but it's not a real representation of the results one may expect from the product. If the product cant't give the results represented by the advetisement, then it should be assumed to be false advertising. Advertisers shouldn't represent what that can't deliver.

      July 29, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  5. stants

    What is the big deal, I think she looks better without the airbrushing. She is gorgeous!

    July 29, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. Phil in Oregon

    The trouble is biological. In the human mating process, the first thing that happens is the male looks at the female and checks her for worthiness as a mate. He checks for youth, strength, breast size, and any other characteristic that lends itself to being a good mother. This is instinct, and education or legislation won't change it. The women who lack these qualities used to be left out of the dating game, but now they can use surgery, makeup, or any number of other ways to cover up the 'mistakes' of nature.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Not right

      Um, some people are attracted to women with small breasts, some people are attracted to overweight women, some people like old women compared to young women. So you are not correct in saying these women were left out of the dating game. Our views and opinions of how a woman should look skewed

      July 29, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Not right

      Um, some people are attracted to women with small breasts, some people are attracted to overweight women, some people like old women compared to young women. So you are not correct in saying these women were left out of the dating game. Our views and opinions of how a woman should look have changed over time, but never to the point that women were left out.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. Nick

    Every cheeseburger at a fast food place. Every Taco. Every Shampoo care.....its never what it should be. Every time I see a model on a Suave commercial or other shampoo commercials....I always think...."my ass....that was professionally done with professional stuff. You think they will use a $3 bottle of shampoo to use on this model? No way".

    July 29, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. Barack Obama

    Let me be clear, I'd tap Beyonce in a heartbeat. Make no mistake, she's a dime piece.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • .......

      this is coming from barack obama, oohhhh the irony

      July 29, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  9. Perfectionist

    Ew, Julia Roberts and Beyonce both need to lose weight. What fat slobs.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  10. HR

    They should ban those ads. It is clearly false advertising. They are trying to get people to think their product will produce these kind of dramatic results – which it won't.

    Advertising has become so insane. Most of it seems to be completely false or misleading – it's time to get them to clean up their act. Also, lower the volume on tv commercials – it is so annoying – grateful to have a mute button.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. gardenlobster

    If they are advertising beauty products, the pictures should be unreasonably altered. They are supposed to show us what the product looks like or can do for us. In any other industry, grossly altering the effects of a product is called false advertising. The photographs of women wearing the make-up are representations made by the company on its effectiveness. This is why it is illegal to post false before/after photos of weight loss treatments, and also why "individual results may vary" or "results not typical" must appear on those ads. It's ok to use a model for clothing, including shapewear, but those images also should be unaltered. Tooth-whitening products have had it hard, and contact lens color enhancements also must be unaltered or carry a disclaimer. No one reasonably believes this make-up turns you into a celebrity, but the prdoucts effects should be reasonably represented.

    July 29, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. thomas mc

    Oh, the irony. They are banning ads for a product that makes women look other than they really are, because it makes them look other than they really are.

    July 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
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