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

Advertising's most ageist ads

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

Politically incorrect: 1950s advertising