I subscribe to a newsletter from the Advertising Standards Agency which lists all their recent rulings. It is a good way to keep abreast of what claims you can get away with or not. The place all marketing departments want to be is close the border of what is acceptable, but not actually quite over it. So it is good to regularly look at actual examples to keep in mind just how much you can get away with it. Most of these stories are pretty dull for people who don’t make a living out of this kind of thing. But one comes along that generates a bit more interest from time to time. For example, when a big celebrity is involved.
This one hit my Twitter feed before I had even opened the e-mail from the ASA. To be honest, I would probably have guessed wrongly in this case. The famously redheaded Christina Hendricks had died her hair blond for the purposes of advertising one of P&G’s hair dyes. This is quite a marketing coup of course – but there is something of a practical problem. Ms Hendricks going blond would have been a news story in its own right. This meant that she had to dye her hair back to its trademark colour immediately after using the product to be advertised. The mistake that they made was to use the hair that had been died back to red as the before shot.
This doesn’t strike me as particularly misleading and if it were up to me I’d have given it a pass. But the ASA is sensitive about meddling with before and after pics. When there were a couple of complaints, they ruled that the advert was not acceptable and ordered it to be withdrawn.
If you are doing before and after pics in an advert, be very careful to make sure that is exactly what they are.