US watchdog bans photoshopping in cosmetics ads | ExtremeTech

US watchdog bans photoshopping in cosmetics ads

By Sebastian Anthony on December 16, 2011 at 9:47 am

Julia Roberts, banned ad


In an interesting move that should finally bring the United States’ fast-and-loose advertising rules and regulations into line with the UK and EU, the National Advertising Division (NAD) — the advertising industry’s self-regulating watchdog — has moved to ban the misleading use of photoshopping and enhanced post-production in cosmetics adverts.

The ban stems from a Procter & Gamble (P&G) CoverGirl ad that photoshopped a model’s eyelashes to exaggerate the effects of NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara. There was a footnote in the ad’s spiel about the photo being manipulated, but according to the director of the NAD, that simply isn’t enough: “You can’t use a photograph to demonstrate how a cosmetic will look after it is applied to a woman’s face and then — in the mice type — have a disclosure that says ‘okay, not really.’” The NAD ruled that the ad was unacceptable, and P&G has since discontinued it.

Christy Turlington, banned ad

So far, so sensible — but some further words from the NAD ruling pose some tricky questions about the continued use of any post production in advertising. Citing a similar situation in the UK, where ads featuring very enhanced versions of Julia Roberts (pictured above) and Christy Turlington were banned, the NAD questions whether photoshopping is necessary when “professional styling, make-up, photography and the product’s inherent covering and smoothing nature” are already at use. In other words, it sounds like Photoshop is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Where does this leave other forms of advertising? The human face (and the multi-billion-dollar cosmetics industry) is obviously a touchy subject, but looking at the bigger picture, almost all television, film, and print advertising uses a combination of “professional styling” and post production to make something look better than it actually is. Will Burger King have to replace those impossibly juicy burgers that hang above the counter with something altogether less plastic and more real? What about those video game ads that don’t feature actual gameplay — and have tiny-font warnings to that effect — will they be banned too? Extrapolating outwards, what about photographers who photoshop their work? Or people who photoshop themselves before placing an image on a dating website?

The underlying problem, of course, is that humans are incredibly sensitive to visual stimuli — and multiple trillion-dollar industries, including advertising, cosmetics, movies, and TV, all stand to gain by making their products look more appealing. There is a reason that digital manipulation and post production is so prevalent, after all — and indeed, it could even be argued that non-manipulated images now look ugly to our eyes. Can you imagine if, over night, all of your favorite Hollywood stars suddenly turned ugly — turned real? Perhaps, then, a ban on photoshopping in the cosmetics industry is a good starting point to slowly and safely bring us back to reality.

 US watchdog bans photoshopping in cosmetics ads | ExtremeTech.

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