Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Where I’ve been + bad beauty ads

I’m back again at last, after what seems to have been almost six weeks of not having posted anything.  I haven’t been away anywhere, the reason for my absence is much more mundane I’m afraid.  Basically I woke up one day and the hard drive of my 18 month old Dell was fried and nothing could be done to save it.  I’ve ordered a new one but my laptop is still not up and running again and I’m writing this on my boyfriend’s tiny netbook.  Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be able to cope with editing photos so it’ll still be a while before I can return to normal picture posts, so in the meantime I thought I’d write a few discussion posts instead about some controversial beauty topics.  They’re a very different style of post to my normal blogging but I hope you find them interesting all the same!

I recently read an article in The Guardian that yet another L’oreal advert is to be banned here in the UK after it was found to have breached advertising standards by the Advertising Standards Authority.  The advert, for an anti-wrinkle cream, features a black and white shot of Rachel Weisz’s face that has been so blasted with white light and digitally altered that I think it actually doesn’t even look like her anymore.  This is the third time in recent years that I personally can remember L’oreal adverts to have been found in breach of advertising standards in the UK – the other two being an advert for Telescopic mascara featuring Penelope Cruz that did not explicitly mention that false lashes and digital enhancement were used, and a Lancome advert featuring Julia Roberts that was banned for having been excessively altered in post-production.  I have personally always found L’oreal adverts to be risible in how badly presented they are.  The two main problems that I have is that they are lazy and completely lack integrity.  They generally feature head shots of celebrities who are renowned for their beauty, but whom L’oreal have clearly deemed to be well below the “beauty threshold” they require in order to make them presentable ambassadors for their products because they go on to digitally alter them almost beyond recognition in some cases (thereby defeating the purpose of using a celebrity in the first place as they need to be recognisable for who they are), at the same time making it completely obvious that they have not been able to achieve the look being presented by using the product being advertised.  I have never once bought a L’oreal product because I believed that I could achieve the look featured in the advert by using the product or even that I believed that the celebrity ambassador used the product themselves (and if they did then it still didn’t make them look good enough for L’oreal now, did it?)  The only time I would buy a L’oreal product I had seen advertised would simply be because it alerted me to the existence of a new product that I would potentially be interested in trying anyway.  However I am generally very put off by L’oreal adverts and in fact nowadays I almost completely avoid the brand solely because I hate their adverts so much.  Another of their brands, Maybelline, might just win for me in the “worst beauty adverts" stakes.  The adverts are practically computer generated illustrations that provide no useful information at all about the potential performance of the products being advertised – I just really can’t understand the point of them.

The kind of beauty ad I would like to see more of are just shots of models wearing the products in an imaginative and cool way that would both give an indication of the colours and textures of the products as they are actually worn on the skin and provide a bit of inspiration on different ways to wear them.  I like both Illamasqua and Urban Decay’s bright and bold approach to beauty shots, and while some of Illamasqua’s shots in particular are often outrageous they do fit in well with the ethos of the brand.

Do you share my beauty advert bugbears?  What are your favourite and least favourite beauty ads?

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