Vanity that’s not worth it?
It’s been a while since a debate was stirred about the negative impact of showing unrealistic images of beauty in magazines and commercials. The issue was thrust in the spotlight again earlier this week, when cosmetics major L’Oreal launched a print commercial for an anti-ageing moisturiser featuring British actor Rachel Weisz.Updated: Feb 04, 2012 00:26 IST
The advertisement drew instant flak as Weisz was made to look unrealistically youthful, purporting that the product could deliver similar results. The ad shows the 41-year-old Weisz looking like a a twenty-year-old with an even-toned complexion, minus any wrinkles. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK banned the commercial by the brand after upholding a complaint filed by Jo Swinson, a Liberal Democrat.
Closer home, reactions are similar. "Any ad that tells a lie should be banned. Unfortunately in India, the focus is more on banning commercials that have nudity. The truth about advertising is that if you don’t deliver what you promise, consumers can lodge a complaint," says ad filmmaker Alyque Padamsee.
Makeup expert Ambika Pillai echoes the same concern: "People are influenced by advertisements. I have people coming up to me and talking about vague products working for them, so the authorities need to be careful." Adman Prahlad Kakkar says, "Look at the crazy amount of money that these whitening and anti-ageing products are making in India. We have a kind of censorship that cares two hoots about the psychological impact and body issues that such misleading adverts can create."
Other ‘fairness’ controversies
Actor Kajol’s advertisement for Olay anti-ageing cream has been criticised by Indian viewers as the actor known for her dusky skin looks fair in the campaign. The marked difference was noticed by the viewers and several angry comments were posted on the internet.
British actor Twiggy’s campaign for an Olay eye cream in 2009 drew flak as the 62-year-old was shown with her wrinkles around her eyes completely air-brushed. Accusations that the campaign was misleading was upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority in UK as the image could have had a negative effect on people.
Aishwarya Rai’s cover picture for Elle India came under scanner when it was suggested that an already fair Ash was made to look excessively pale on the cover page. While the magazine denied airbrushing the pictures, the 37-year-old was reportedly furious with the magazine.