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ASA Adjudication on LOreal (UK) Ltd

L'Oreal (UK) Ltd

255 Hammersmith Road
London
W6 8AZ

Date:

2 June 2010

Media:

Television, Magazine, Poster

Sector:

Health and beauty

Number of complaints:

40

Agency:

McCann-Erickson Advertising Ltd

Complaint Ref:

112231

Ad

A TV ad, two posters and a magazine ad, for hair care products, featured Cheryl Cole.

a. In the TV ad she stated “Weak, limp, lifeless; it’s time our hair got a life". The voice-over stated “New L’Oreal Elvive Full Restore five with pro-keratin for five top hair problems. It targets weak, limp, lifeless, dull and straw-like hair”. Cheryl Cole stated “My hair feels stronger, full of life, replenished, with a healthy shine. It’s got its mojo back”. Text on screen stated “Styled with some natural hair extensions”.

b. The first poster stated “5 problems, 1 solution Full Restore 5 your hair … Helps target 5 problems to restore hair’s beauty … 1 Weak 2 Limp 3 Lifeless 4 Dull 5 Straw-like”. Small print stated “Styled with some natural hair extensions, cared for with Full Restore 5”.

c. The second poster stated “5 problems, 1 solution. Helps target 5 problems to restore hair’s beauty. 1 Weak 2 Limp 3 Lifeless 4 Dull 5 Straw-like Full Restore 5 your hair”.

d. The magazine ad stated “1 Weak 2 Limp 3 Lifeless 4 Dull 5 Straw-like ‘My hair’s got its mojo back!’ Cheryl Cole 5 problems, 1 solution. Full Restore 5 your hair … The results: Feels stronger Feels weightless Looks replenished Has a healthy-looking shine Feels silkier”. Small print stated “Styled with some natural hair extensions, cared for with Full Restore 5”.

Issue

The ASA received 40 complaints; most of the complainants challenged whether:

1. the TV ad;

2. poster (b);

3. poster (c); and

4. the magazine ad

misleadingly exaggerated the benefits of the products, which they believed could not produce the effects shown because Cheryl Cole was wearing hair extensions.

5. Some of the complainants challenged whether the TV ad was misleading, because they believed the products were not suitable for use with hair extensions.

CAP Code (Edition 11)

BCAP TV Code

Response

LOreal (UK) Ltd (LOreal) said Full Restore 5 was specifically tested on, and targeted at, consumers with the five hair concerns identified in their advertising; they clearly communicated that to the target audience and limited their claims accordingly. They said 356 participants in a large-scale consumer test, who did not have hair extensions, used Full Restore 5 shampoo and conditioner for two weeks. The results of that test established that the benefits of the products were achievable and were recognised by the average consumer who did not have hair extensions. They said the ads were not intended to promise that consumers would look exactly like Cheryl Cole and the average consumer would understand the effects would vary according to hair type as well as to how the hair was styled. LOreal pointed out it was common industry practice for models to have their hair professionally blow-dried and styled for commercial shoots; that would of course impact the final look. They said Cheryl Cole had her hair styled by her personal hairdresser, as was her usual practice, and the photograph was shot by a production team.

LOreal said, because none of the claims in the ads related to benefits given by hair extensions, they believed qualifying text was not required; they had included small print, or on-screen text, in ads (a), (b) and (d) not as a disclaimer but because they wanted to be transparent. They felt it was suitable to disclose that information in the ads given that Cheryl Cole was already well known for having hair extensions and openly discussed that with journalists. They believed the way Cheryl Cole was portrayed in the ads was entirely consistent with the image the public was used to seeing in newspapers and in television appearances; she had not been transformed above and beyond that public image for the purposes of the ads. LOreal pointed out that the ads did not suggest Full Restore 5 was solely responsible for Cheryl Coles look and consumers would understand the final effect was partly due to professional styling, make-up and photography. Moreover, they believed the ads were not misleading because they clearly informed consumers of the benefits, which had been demonstrated in consumer testing, that they could achieve for their own hair.

They said in the online marketing tests, the majority of women said they understood they would not be able to achieve exactly the same effects on their own hair as were shown in the ad. They said that was because they had different hair types, because Cheryl Coles hair had been styled by hairdressers and because their hair was not as full. LOreal were satisfied those reasons were not driven by the fact that Cheryl Cole had hair extensions and confirmed the average woman understood the product could work for them without them needing to believe they would look exactly like Cheryl Cole.

1. LOreal said they did not believe they were required to mention Cheryl Coles hair extensions in their advertising for Full Restore 5; their decision to include that information was purely incidental to the TV ad, because it was not linked to the performance of the product. Consumer perception tests however had shown the on-screen text added to the credibility and appeal of the ad; given that, and in the interest of transparency, the text was included and was clear, legible and prominent enough for the average consumer to read. They submitted the substantiation they had provided to Clearcast, including examples of Cheryl Cole discussing her hair extensions in the press and of her public appearances.

Clearcast said they believed the ad did not misleadingly exaggerate the benefits of the product. They had approved it based on extensive evidence provided to support the claims. They said the claims voiced by Cheryl Cole represented the opinions and experiences of the women involved in the testing, which was extremely relevant because it involved real women.

They had advised LOreal that care should be taken to ensure the demonstration sequence was accurate but pointed out that there was no comparison with what the hair was like prior to using Full Restore 5; it was therefore unclear exactly what had been achieved using the products alone. Clearcast stated that all hair types differed so consumers would not expect their hair to look exactly like Cheryl Coles, in particular because there was no exaggerated comparison. They said the purpose of the ad was to show the products full potential but nevertheless they believed the qualities of the hair shown in the ad could be achieved by using the product, based on the consumer research they had seen.

Clearcast also believed it was not necessary to include qualifying text in the ad; however, they said LOreal had done so voluntarily. Their position was that extensions were used largely to create length, which was significantly different from the function of hair care products. The use of extensions was therefore unlikely to mislead viewers.

2. & 4. LOreal said the small print in poster (b) was larger than the small print typically used in the outdoor advertising for various sectors; it was also clear, legible and prominent enough for the average consumer to read. They said the size of the text was very similar to text in the body copy of the ad, which stated "Helps target 5 problems to restore hairs beauty". They did not comment specifically on ad (d).

3. They said they believed text explaining that the model was wearing hair extensions was required only if the claims in the ad, or the benefits of the product, related to extensions. In the case of poster (c), none of the claims related to benefits given by hair extensions and their opinion was therefore that it was not necessary to disclose that Cheryl Cole wore hair extensions in the ad. They stated that the ad did not claim that Full Restore 5 products could lengthen the hair, which was known to be the main purpose of extensions. The fact that Cheryl Cole ordinarily wore hair extensions was not relevant because their presence did not exaggerate the product benefits. LOreal said, with the exception of poster (c), they had chosen to disclose that the model was "Styled with some natural hair extensions ... " in order to be transparent and to give the advertising more credibility, not because they believed that text was required.

5. LOreal said Full Restore 5 was not designed for, or targeted at, consumers with hair extensions and therefore none of the claims related to extensions or implied that the products were designed for use by consumers with hair extensions. They said Cheryl Cole ordinarily used natural hair extensions and therefore they were used for the shoot; they were cared for with Full Restore 5. They provided signed affidavits from Cheryl Coles hairdresser and manager to that effect. They said, however, the onus was on consumers to consult with their hairdresser about the best products to use with their particular hair extensions.

Clearcast said the ad did not claim the product was appropriate for use with hair extensions and they did not regard the text "Styled with some natural hair extensions" as a sales claim. They said LOreal had confirmed however that the product was suitable for use on natural hair extensions such as the ones that were shown in the ad. They believed the ad was not misleading because the product could be used with the type of hair extensions shown.

Assessment

1., 2., 3. & 4. Not upheld

The ASA noted the consumer testing conducted by LOreal appeared to demonstrate that the results referred to were achievable by consumers who did not wear hair extensions. The majority of respondents agreed they had seen some improvements to the hair problems identified in the ads after using the products. We considered most consumers would interpret the ads to mean the product would have an effect on the look and feel of hair that was weak, limp, lifeless, dull or straw-like. However, they were likely to understand that individual results would vary according to their own hair type. We noted the text "Styled with some natural hair extensions" appeared briefly in ad (a), and "Styled with some natural hair extensions, cared for with Full Restore 5" was included in ads (b) and (d). No explanatory text was included in ad (c) however we considered consumers would understand the images in all the ads were stylised and the result of professional hair styling, particularly in the case of ads (a), (b) and (d) because they included text to explain that that styling also involved hair extensions.

We considered consumers would understand the message of the ads to be that the product could have some positive and achievable effect on their weak, dull, limp and lifeless hair but that they would not be misled into believing that, by just using the product, it would replicate for them the fullness of Cheryl Coles hair, because hers had been professionally styled. We concluded that the ads did not misleadingly exaggerate the effects of the product.

On points 1 to 4, we investigated ads (b), (c) and (d) under CAP Code clauses 7.1 and 7.2 (Truthfulness) but did not find them in breach. We investigated ad (a) under CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1.1 and 5.1.2 (Misleading advertising) and 5.2.3 (Qualifications) but did not find it in breach.

5. Not upheld

We noted ad (a) showed Cheryl Cole wearing hair extensions but did not state that the product was suitable for use with extensions. We considered the text "Styled with some natural hair extensions" was likely to be interpreted as suggesting the models hairstyle included extensions, not that the product was suitable to care for them. We also considered viewers were likely to understand that they would need to check before using a product on their particular type of hair extensions. We concluded that the ad was not misleading.

On this point, we investigated ad (a) CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1.1 and 5.1.2 (Misleading advertising) and 5.2.3 (Qualifications) but did not find it in breach.

Action

No further action necessary.

Adjudication of the ASA Council (Broadcast)

Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)

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