Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Ban: Airbrushed Models in L'Oreal Ads

The nanny state strikes again in the UK. The latest menace? Aibrushed models. In order to protect the poor hapless consumer from "misleading advertising" (which, by the way, is an oxymoron), the UK Advertising Standards Agency has banned advertisements issued by L'Oreal ("because you're worth it") featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington. The complainant, Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson, claimed that "There's a problem out there with body image and confidence. The way excessive retouching has become pervasive in our society is contributing to that problem." What a load of absolute tosh. One would have expected the watchdog to require some evidence of consumers being misled by these images of Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington. They were not deterred by the lack of evidence and get it completely wrong: "If advertisers go too far in using airbrushing and other post-production techniques to alter the appearance of models and it's likely to mislead people, then that's wrong and we'll stop the ads."

What about the free speech rights of the advertisers? By definition, advertisements entail a degree of puffery. Consumers with any degree of common sense would have taken such advertisements with a pinch of salt. Those lacking in that department deserve to be fooled. A ban is unnecessary. Disclosure on the part of L'Oreal about the retouching would have been sufficient to protect whatever consumer interest the advertising standards agency's mandate requires it to safeguard.

More at the BBC.