Nivea ad banned for 'photoshopping' model

NiveaNivea has been told to stop using a wrinkle cream advert, because it had used an excessive amount of airbrushing to make the model look younger. The company had erased lines, wrinkles and age spots on the 62-year-old model to the point of making 'substantial changes'.

And this isn't the first time that beauty companies have been in trouble for heavy-handed airbrushing.


The advert featured a photo of 62-year-old model Cindy Joseph and the text: "vital anti-age cream - visibly reduces wrinkles, improves firmness and helps prevent age spots."

One person complained to the Advertising Standards Agency, asking whether there had been too much airbrushing - and whether the advert mislead people as to the effect they could expect.

In its defence, Nivea confirmed what we always expected - that they generally retouched the images in all their adverts. However, they insisted that had deliberately left wrinkles around the eyes and 'took care not to overly retouch'.

They provided 'before' and 'after' images to show the work they had done, and admitted they had retouched the photo on the areas which the product helped improve - including sagging cheeks, puffiness and wrinkles on the forehead and around the mouth.

Cindy JosephHowever, the ASA did not agree. It said that it hadn't seen sufficient evidence demonstrating that the product could do what it claimed - such as reducing wrinkles and helping prevent age spots.

It added: "We noted that the image in the ad had undergone post-production enhancement .... We considered that the image of the older model, who was in the centre of the shot, had undergone extensive retouching resulting in substantial changes to the model's appearance. Lines and wrinkles on her face, particularly around the eye and mouth area, had been dramatically reduced, and several age spots had been removed. In the absence of evidence demonstrating that that effect was in line with that which could be achieved through use of the product, we concluded that the ad misleadingly exaggerated the performance of the product."

It banned the advert, and demanded that the company took more care not to mislead through post-production again.

Advertising's most ageist ads
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Nivea ad banned for 'photoshopping' model

It's not clear how old the Italian Mediterranean woman is at the helm of her elderly convertible. But clearly by using an olive-oil based spread on her ciabatta, she can still drive at a good clip.

The ageism is more subtle here. Imagine, an older lady still able to drive quickly and competently! And actually enjoying the experience. Sure, it's not offensive as some ageist ads, but it's a tad patronising. Welcome to ad-land.

In the 1930s, anyone more than 40 was definitely middle aged and in need of Phyllosan. Fortifies the over 40s was one of the taglines. Phyllosan ads had the job of informing consumers their pills would restore "digestive and metabolic tone strengthening the nerves and energy."

There's an implied sense of threat here too. The grim-faced doctor won't have much time with a 40-year old male who hesitates to buy this "life-changing" medicament. Be responsible; you're officially middle aged. Buckle down.

Here's another ageist piece of marketing. The hugely cash-generative insurance industry makes a lot of its money out of our own insecurities - and this ad is true to type.

But a few wrinkles are part of ageing. It's not necessarily about being worried. How about laughter lines? Not a pitch that wouldn't have gone down well in a client planning meeting, though given the financial crisis we've been through, some lightening up would have been a useful corrective.

However dreary becoming 40-plus might be, imagine how dire it was to be female and 50. Here, Mrs Georgina Weldon is truly verging on old maid-dom. However thanks to Pears soap, the ad claims her skin is like a 17-year-old.

How many 17-year-olds dressed like that, even in the late 19th century? Mrs Georgina Weldon was, in fact a "real life" case study. She was also a well-known litigant and fighter for female conjugal rights. A clever women also known as 'Portia of the Law Courts'.

But Georgina, that hat...

Now roll forward 120 years to this Dove soap (made by Unilever) ad; it caused a lot of chatter in the US, with the authorities even part-banning the ad. The woman here is not caked in make-up or soap. Although there's probably some touching up done, it's remarkably natural-looking.

Message: it's still okay and attractive to seek older people with no clothes. Too radical for some shocked Americans, though.

Yet some older women - even late middle age, even older - remain beautiful, vigorous and attractive, as in this Age Concern ad. But though you can see Age Concern's point, many old people look old because they are old. Not all older women would want to wear just a black satin bra on the front page of a newspaper.

Does it make us think about age or ageism in a different way? Or is it more she looks good considering she's 60-odd? Age Concern's grey boob.

Or how about this Lucozade ad aimed at older men? You might be pushing 80 but you can still pull if you drink sugar-loaded Lucozade. Pretty crude. This ad apparently was originally shot with an older woman flanked by two semi-naked males.

However the editor of FHM didn't think his mag would appreciate the grey-haired older woman - and asked her to be replaced by a man. Ageist and sexist!

This Spar ad is just awful, isn't it? The husband has lost his wine gums (gums). The wife can't find her ball of wool. But a quick trip - or hobble - to Spar and back and everything is okay. Note husband's gummy smile and wife's dowdy get-up.

The first is a neat little bit of clever reverse ageism from Elizabeth Arden. The woman in the picture is not just married (well, divorced) but dating a man younger than her son. She's independent, confident and apparently in control.

And confident enough to admit the current romantic arrangements.
You could criticise it for reviving the cliche of the fast older woman more interested in sex or shock value. A positive image? Sort of. And some way from the overweight bespectacled country bumpkin we started with.

Lastly, an older, grey-haired woman happy in her own skin complete with studded belt, (hand?) knitted top and punk-style tartan trousers. Let's hope Samsung sold a ton more washing machines through this ad. A confident, modern, energetic older woman. A rare find.


Not the first

It's embarrassing for the company, but it's not the first beauty company to get into trouble for retouching photos.

In October last year, a Christian Dior advert for mascara was banned, after the ASA concluded that photos of Natalie Portman had been excessively altered. The company admitted that it had re-touched the photos to increase the thickness and volume of her eyelashes. The ASA said it hadn't seen sufficient proof that the advert didn't exaggerate the effect of the product.

In February of the same year, a L'Oreal anti-wrinkle cream advert featuring Rachel Weisz was banned, after the ASA ruled that the post-production smoothing of her skin had substantially changed her complexion.

In 2011 two L'Oreal brands were slammed by the watchdog. A Lancome advert featuring Julia Roberts and a Maybelline advert showing Christy Turlington were both banned for airbrushing. The company admitted to re-touching the Turlington photo, but claimed they did so to reflect the difference the product could make. It claimed it hadn't altered the image of Roberts. In the end, both adverts were banned because the company couldn't prove exactly how much airbrushing had been carried out.

In these cases beauty companies, which routinely re-touch photographs to make extraordinarily beautiful women look even more beautiful, strayed over the line of what the ASA considers acceptable.

However, it begs the question of whether airbrushing is fair at all in beauty adverts - or whether it's just promoting an unreal image of beauty. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Politically incorrect: 1950s advertising
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Nivea ad banned for 'photoshopping' model

We begin with breakfast. Or in this case, Post Grape-Nuts. And because this clearly delighted woman has been sticking to her delicious low-fat cereal, she CAN buy the floral summer dress, while the poor, overweight frump in the background looks on with envy and disapproval.

Of course, this sort of advertising still continues in the 21st century, except it's rather more sophisticated these days. Slim and pretty women always sell more clothes than plain or dumpy ones.

What did American advertisers think women wanted in the 1950s? More financial independence? Pay equality with men? A European holiday? Better orgasms or birth control? What they really wanted was a better soap powder.

Tide's got what women want! The crudity of the message, some 60 years on, is breathtaking.

Plenty of other brands, of course, had been busy promoting cleanliness for several decades beforehand. One new soap was Dove, a novel brand back in 1957. "One quarter cleansing cream - ordinary soap dries your skin but Dove creams your skin while you wash."

Predictably women were the target while men were groomed by marketeers to worry about hair (buy XYZ hair tonic for added confidence). Women were also gagging for softer loo roll. "New soft toilet tissue brings comfort women long for".

Men, it seems, couldn't care less how abrasive the experience was (and not a lot seems to have changed).

While detergent and food manufacturers attempted to focus the minds of many females on the home, motor manufacturers were also zeroing in on women, though often only as back seat passengers, as this Ford ad makes clear.

However the Independent Electric Light & Power company had other ideas. Not only were women in the driving seat in this company's futurisistic vision of the future, they had also taken to the air and were piloting their own craft too. But the flight was only to the shopping mall (note the stacked grocery bag) followed by the school run.

At least Independent Electric Light & Power had the presence of mind to predict roof solar heating panels (at least they look like solar water heating panels on the house roof in this depicted ad).

Of course, many women didn't have any kind of life in the week at all, so busy were they with cleaning, cooking and blending in with the ironing board. But every Friday night they had a chance to see LIFE.

"For five days a week," simpered this women's story advert, "she was a housewife; at the weekends a lady of leisure. It was the sort of thing that led to a split personality."

Really? It didn't lead to a bored, frustrated and rebellious personality instead? How much, then, has changed, would you say?

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