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Eyelashes Too Good to Be True

Procter & Gamble has pulled a CoverGirl ad featuring a photo of Taylor Swift. From Tanzina Vega’s piece at NY Times:

In the ad, for CoverGirl NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara, Ms. Swift’s eyelashes have been enhanced after the fact to look even fuller, and, as a result, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus ruled this month that it was misleading.

The ad itself disclosed the touch-up work: Copy underneath the photo said that her eyelashes had been “enhanced in post production.” And what ad, after all, hasn’t been enhanced in post production? According to a spokesperson for the NAD, though, this case was different: “The photograph stands as a product demonstration. Your eyelashes will look like this if you use this product.”

In the past few years the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has forced Johnson & Johnson (here) and P&G’s Olay (here) to pull ads for false claims for anti-aging creams, but in both cases the violation was sketchy scientific claims. More recently it ruled against L’Oreal (here) for going too far on lighting effects and post production touch-ups on Julia Roberts’s and Christy Turlington’s skin.

Hmmm, this is tough one. The L’Oreal and CoverGirl ads strike me as more explicit versions of what most beauty ads do: They bring together a young, beautiful person with a small team of magicians (stylists, lighting technicians, professional photographers and Photoshop gurus) to imply that we could all look like that young, beautiful person even without the magicians. At what point does it cross into photo-as-product-demonstration?

200 Brands With the Largest Ad Budgets

Would you have guessed that Chevy spends more than Ford or Toyota? Or that Macy’s spends more than Target? Other rankings that surprised me: Arm & Hammer spends more than Gatorade, Kia spends more than Volkswagen, and Ashley Furniture spends more than Ikea.

Check out this great infographic that ranks the top 200 brands by the size of their 2009 and 2010 ad budgets.

Top Auto Ad Spenders

The top two in each category (first, second):

Auto: Chevy, Ford
Retail: Walmart, Macy’s
Apparel: Skechers, Nike
Telecom: AT&T, Verizon
Restaurants: McDonald’s, Subway
Food and Beverage: Coke, Campbell
Beer: Budweiser, Miller
Cleaning Products: Tide, Clorox
Financial Services: American Express, Chase
Beauty and Personal Care: L’Oreal Paris, Olay
Insurance: Geico, Progressive
Consumer Electronics: Microsoft, Apple
Media: DirecTV, Dish Network
Drugs: Lipitor, Cialis