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US Watchdog Bans Photoshop Use In Cosmetics Ads 383

MrSeb writes "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 a 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. The ruling goes one step further, though, and points out that 'professional styling, make-up, photography and the product's inherent covering and smoothing nature' should be enough, without adding Photoshop to the mix. The cosmetics industry is obviously a good starting point — but what if the ban leaks over to product photography (I'm looking at you, Burger King), video gameplay demos, or a photographer's own works?"
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US Watchdog Bans Photoshop Use In Cosmetics Ads

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  • by Toe, The ( 545098 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:17PM (#38398586)

    Interesting that the NADs would be protecting me from beautiful women. Hm.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:20PM (#38398622) Journal

    I'm creating an analog version of Photoshop for beauty enhancement. I'm kicking around 3 names for it right now: 1) Flugrup, 2) Snibb, and 3) Makeup.

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      I'm creating an analog version of Photoshop for beauty enhancement. I'm kicking around 3 names for it right now: 1) Flugrup, 2) Snibb, and 3) Makeup.

      What... is any person wearing them a merchandise? (did the economic crisis evolve bad enough that the slavery was reinstated?)
      Really... don't you really see any difference between wearing makeup and deceptive advertising of a product?

    • They use Photoshop to enhance images, not actual people. The words you're looking for are "paintbrush" and "pencil".

    • analog version of Photoshop? Oh, yes, back in the day we called it

      4) Darkroom

  • Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:20PM (#38398624)

    Since when did cosmetics, and most especially the advertisements thereof, have anything to do with reality? They are like real life photoshop.

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:20PM (#38398636)
    Yeah I went there.
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gm a i l . c om> on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:21PM (#38398658) Homepage Journal
    The ExtremeTech article mentions an Adobe product by name eight times but doesn't mention its competitors once. I haven't had a chance to read the regulation myself, but someone reading the ExtremeTech article might come away with the impression that people who use non-Adobe software might get off easier, even if the capabilities of non-Adobe software are GIMPed by comparison.
    • Re:Adobe eight times (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zironic ( 1112127 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:25PM (#38398734)

      The actual ruling uses terms such as "post production techniques" as the catch all term.

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      Probably because nobody in the professional advertising world (the people who make up the NAD) is using anything other than Photoshop.

    • by N0Man74 ( 1620447 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:37PM (#38398984)

      Or maybe... the name "photoshop" has become so ubiquitous that it has come to be synonymous with "computer aided photo manipulation". It is not uncommon for brand names to infiltrate culture so successfully that the trademarked brand name ceases to be relevant.

      I suggest that you take a sharpie and a post-it note and write yourself a reminder to google this phenomenon. If that sounds like too much of a headache, take an aspirin and maybe tivo a documentary on it.

      • Don't forget to xerox the post-it note, and have a kleenex handy.

      • Re:Adobe eight times (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dotancohen ( 1015143 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @05:09PM (#38403220) Homepage

        Or maybe... the name "photoshop" has become so ubiquitous that it has come to be synonymous with "computer aided photo manipulation". It is not uncommon for brand names to infiltrate culture so successfully that the trademarked brand name ceases to be relevant.

        I suggest that you take a sharpie and a post-it note and write yourself a reminder to google this phenomenon. If that sounds like too much of a headache, take an aspirin and maybe tivo a documentary on it.

        I once heard a woman say that she was googling in her refrigerator for ketchup. I wanted to ask her if she photoshops her face before she goes out.

  • But who will I sell my "Circus Clown Photoshop Plugin Set" to now?! Who else could possibly need my patented "Whorify" brush?
  • I'd be fine with this. The burger you get at the counter doesn't look anything like the ones in the ads or on the poster in the store, clearly misleading. Whether a *law* needs to be added into the mix is a whole other matter, and one I'd rather not see enacted.

    • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:41PM (#38399046) Homepage Journal

      Well, you won't get individual burger chains voluntarily making their ads look like crap (it won't improve sales but it will make their competitors look better), the same goes with cosmetics companies, et al. Voluntary compliance simply won't happen.

      Ok, what about the watchdog? Well, as the FCC found out when trying to impose rulings on network neutrality, the courts regard watchdogs as being not much more than mere advisory panels. In short, if a company took a watchdog to court, claiming that Congress had ruled these kinds of deceptive advertising to be non-protected Commercial Speech that they had First Amendment protections to be as deceptive as they damn well felt like, the company would almost certainly win.

      Which means that if you honestly believe that there's a limit to the acceptable level of deception, Congress has to have some involvement. It needn't be a full-blown law, and that would likely also fail as UnConstitutional, but there has to be something that is at that level which clearly denotes that there is a difference between protected commercial speech (satire/parody, comedic representation, figurative representation, et al) and actual attempts to deceive a customer into buying something that never existed. And, no, what the US currently has is obviously not enough, or the cosmetics companies would be up the proverbial creek without paddle (or indeed canoe) via lemon laws. The product is, after all, "defective" when compared with what it's sold as. They aren't and the watchdog didn't even bother using such laws, showing the laws have no value or significance.

    • Since this is the involved industry's own 'self regulation' body acting, it is generally safe to assume that the issue is seen as quite serious, and that the risk of actual legislation has been pushed back by at least half a decade...
    • by Drew_9999 ( 750818 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:46PM (#38399132)
      Your burger doesn't look as good as the one in the picture for a couple of reasons. One is that the artists making the picture are extremely good at showing the product in a flattering way, and that's not going to change. Another part of that is because some products simply can't sit under hot lights for an hour, so they don't even use the real thing. The only thing that removing digital alteration from the process will do is force advertisers to use non-digital means of making their products look good. Non-digital airbrushing is still effective, just not as cheap. The burger on the menu will still look like a team of professional artists worked to make it look at good as possible, and the burger on your plate will still look like it was assembled by a high school kid in a hurry.
  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:24PM (#38398720)
    Yea, I really wish someone in the government would make the fast food industry stop the clearly deceptive advertising. The pictured sandwiches are nothing like what you are actually buying. It is one thing to say "we took extra care to make it look good, positioned all of the parts perfectly, and photographed it under good lighting, it is quite another to photograph larger portions than the customer will ever get.
    • Yeah, when I see a picture of a burger covering the entire front window of Burger King, I want a burger that big. And for $2 too!

    • They could take a burger that was made in the shop, spray it with some kind of preservative / sealant, and put it out on display. I've seen this done in cafeterias. Then you know that, what you see, is what you're gonna get.

      Of course, they don't want you to see this . . .

      What is that "Crunchy Frog" on the menu . . . ?

    • by v1 ( 525388 )

      They're photshopping. Or at least they were recently, I think they got caught. This spring I think it was they put up the pictures in the window of the new triple stacker burgers, compared to the double stacker. One day while waiting at the drive-thru I looked carefully and realized the top buns were identical. (sesame seed placement the same) Closer inspection showed the top and bottom of the double and triple stacker were pixel-for-pixel identical, they appear to have started with a triple stacker and

    • by jd ( 1658 )

      Depends on the microscope they used. Seriously, though, there is nothing at the moment that prohibits deceptive advertising and the watchdog would likely lose if any actual ban on any piece of advertising got challenged in court. The situation is currently futile and will remain so until all branches (SCOTUS included) uniformly agree that selling a product that doesn't exist is not "artistic license". (The view of courts in the past is that it is and therefore it is protected speech.)

  • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:28PM (#38398796) Journal
    A gal's perspective here. This is something that I learned as a teenager: Makeup is actually bad for your skin. If you care for your skin properly as a teenager and a young adult, and don't slather twenty layers of makeup on it daily, then your skin actually stays pretty nice looking through your thirties and forties. However, if you wear makeup regularly as a youngster, you'll need to wear makeup for the rest of your life. (Not smoking also helps a lot as well.)

    I do wear light makeup on special occasions, but during the week at work I just don't bother. I use a clear combo gel/powder with sunscreen called MagicX instead of foundation on "bad skin days." That's all I need, even though the cosmetic industry thinks I need to have twenty different products on my skin daily. I splurge on good lotions and night treatments, but because I do that, I don't need makeup - or photoshop - to have a nice looking face.
  • Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sootman ( 158191 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:33PM (#38398878) Homepage Journal

    I'd rather marketers be over-restricted than under-restricted. Talk about lying: just the other day I got an ad in the form of a fake rebate check. It looks just like a real check, of course, and it says "REBATE CHECK" in big letters and "This is not a check" in very small letters. WTF? Can I sell a pill that says "CURES CANCER!" in big letters and then "Does not cure cancer" in small letters just below it?

    (I'm not kidding. I can post a pic later if anyone wants to see proof.)

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:34PM (#38398904) Journal
    Unless one wishes to cling to the trivially false illusion that humans are rational actors, who weigh all data inputs objectively, it seems fairly obvious that a gigantic picture asserting that Product X will make your face look like you've been born with perfect genes and then worked over by a talented retouch guy is a lie, even if accompanied by a 2pt flyspeck disclaimer that 'results not typical, you ugly hag, buy our product anyway or die scorned and alone'.

    Of course, on that basis, it's hard to imagine much of the advertising industry being left(Note, this does not represent criticism of this basis, no not at all). So much of advertising consists of more or less blatantly false images and video, followed by a tiny text disclaimer.

    As for the concerns mentioned at the end of TFS, I'm not sure I see the problem: this [] is arguably even more divorced from reality than cosmetics advertising, and the battle over pre-renders being pimped as "in engine"(recorded at 1FPS, with known-unusably-bugggy effects enabled with command line switches, on $10,000 workstation, played back at 30FPS, or just created by importing our highest resolution art assets into 3DSMAX...) in gameplay advertising has gone on for ages. As for 'photographer's own work', unless you assert that you, as a photographer, take 'pictures that objectively represent reality' rather than 'aesthetically pleasing pictures', why would photoshop be any worse than using a good lens or a low-noise sensor? In photojournalism, photochopping can be a serious problem; but in photography as art, you aren't making a truth claim, so it's pretty hard to lie...

    As voluntary standards by a private industry body, this seems like an unimpeachable step. The issue would get a bit more dicey were the state to step in, you'd have to adjudicate the line between expressive free speech and commercial fraud through deception; but if the marketweasels want to clean up a small part of their slime trail, all the better...
  • Does the same thing apply to food advertisements?
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:36PM (#38398958) Homepage
    Well, at least if they outlaw all the pre-photoshop fakes they use. Typically a picture of pancakes is done using motor oil because it looks like the perfect maple syrup. They add sopay water to cofee to make it look extra hot and bubbly. They stain barbecue ribs with wood stain to make it them extra juicy. They use dyed whipped crisco to make milkshakes look dense and creamy. As for milk - Elmer's glue sure takes a nice photo.

    Which of course is why the pictures of food NEVER look like what they serve you. On the plus side, you wouldn't really want to eat what they took pictures of.

  • by ewg ( 158266 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:38PM (#38399000)

    Note that Adobe is still allowed to Photoshop ads for Photoshop, since that's what they're selling

    • Well that's only fair I guess, if the cosmetics companies are still allowed to put make-up on the magazines.

    • true, but the before and after comparison capabilities arent nearly as strong of a selling point now that they are the same picture.

  • by Layer 3 Ninja ( 862455 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:38PM (#38399002) Journal
    On some tv commercials you'll see "Screen images simulated, sequences shortened." So what you're seeing is fantasy compared to how the phone actually works. Its a bit much.
  • I'm not sure what we're alluding to. Does this mean that we'll see art that actually looks like something?

  • If there are people alive today who don't know that they should be skeptical about advertising, they probably aren't watching American cosmetics ads anyway.

  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:48PM (#38399156)

    The end product of cosmetics is an improved appearance. If an ad tries to sell cosmetics based on an appearance that the cosmetics themselves cannot deliver, that's fraud.

  • Misleading advertising should be illegal anyhow. I don't see why this group should have to specifically ban it.

  • by ciderbrew ( 1860166 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:54PM (#38399236)
    Put a disclaimer on the photo and provide links to the source images used. If you're interested you can look it up.
    A few years ago in the UK they ran a Dove soap advert with real women. They ran it just about everywhere. After a week of looking at those real women on my morning commute, I longed for the fake photo shopped lie. I don't expect pictures of beer gut real men on the cover of men's health either. Real is grim, lets live the lie :)
  • by oldmac31310 ( 1845668 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:38PM (#38401010) Homepage
    So the photographers and designers will be forced to use GIMP from now on? Poor bastards!
  • by CCarrot ( 1562079 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:53PM (#38401234)

    Instead of trashing all post-production work, which could put a lot of people out of a job, why not just change the mandatory notification size? Kinda like they did for cigarette packages: a minimum of 50% of the front and back packaging must be a health warning advert (at least, that's how it is here in Canada).

    Make it so they have to describe exactly what they did (e.g., altered skin tone, corrected blemishes and enhanced eyelashes, lips, nose and bust size) and legislate that they must make the size of the description a minimum percentage of the total advertisement size (maybe 30%?) and use font size scaled to the advert size instead of using text so small one has to pull out the magnifying glass to read it on a 55" HD plasma. That way people can see clearly for themselves which ones are the incredible lying fuckwads, and which ones aren't. Wouldn't that be nice?

    Well...we made the tobacco companies comply with this, I don't see why we can't do so with beauty product advertisements...

  • by jbohumil ( 517473 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:59PM (#38401328)
    I was under the impression that all digital photos have gone through some kind of post production even before they come out of the camera they are manipulated to achieve various qualities.

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