Wednesday 16 December 2009


I’ve been pondering over this a lot today. Not that I’m a huge fan of Twiggy. Indeed I don’t really know what Twiggy does, except advertising M&S, but on investigation I have discovered that, in her youth she was a model, and later she became an actress and singer.

Of course this post isn’t at all about Twiggy. She is but a bit player in it. The post is about advertising, and the power it has over us, and how far we should let advertisers bend reality in their effort to sell us what they want us to buy.

Twiggy comes into it only because she has been advertising Oil of Olay beauty treatments, one of which is a moisturiser of sorts which they claim, or rather she claims on their behalf, is the secret to her brighter looking eyes. This claim is accompanied by a photograph of Twiggy with wrinkleless eyes, sparkling out at us. However, the reality is that, pretty and youthful though the 60 year old looks, she has bags under her eyes, crows’ feet and a double chin, as seen in another picture of her taken recently.

As I say, I’m not having a go at Twiggy. She looks great for 60. And we all know that show business personalities, male and female, make themselves look younger in publicity shots, album covers, film posters, etc, by the smart use of soft focus, good lighting and special angles, not to mention all manner of technical things that can be done with computers.

What I wonder is, when a personality is advertising a product designed to reduce the signs of aging, should her, or his, photograph be so doctored? Is it fair to potential customers of the product? How many people looking at that photograph of the incredibly youthful, smooth visage would seriously believe that, with the use of this product, they could look like that?

Men and women in the UK spend an unseemly amount on cosmetic, age defying, moisturising creams of some sort or another. (I couldn’t find a figure for women, but men alone apparently spend £1.3 billion a year). How much of this money is spent as a result of misleading advertising.... and what can we do about it?

Today the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the advertisement could be misleading, but they thought that most people would realise that a woman of Twiggy’s age could not have achieved this kind of complexion by using this product alone. To be fair Proctor and Gamble, the manufacturers of the product have apparently replaced the photograph with one which is more realistic.

But no one has banned the use of misleading photographs in cosmetics advertising. I think it’s big business fleecing men and women who are vulnerable to the pressures to remain young forever. What do you think?


  1. Advertising is a form of deception, though I think the cosmetics industry ought not to be allowed to mislead the public by using cosmetically altered models to advertise beauty products.

    On the otherhand anti-deodorant and the occasional use of aftershave is as far as I've fallen in with the beautiful people.

  2. Yes QM. I suppose much of it is... not all. I agree. It's wicked to suggest to people they will have skin like picture 2, when in reality they are likely to have skin like picture 1.

    I like to do a bit of moisturizing myself QM. Must maintain these good looks don't you think?

    I'm wondering what it was like in the days when deodourant was little known and even less used. I doubt if I'd have liked the journey home on a crowded train or bus, especially in the summer.

  3. Pretty shoddy practice, did Twiggy not vet the add before it went out?

  4. Munguin. I don't know. I guess she probably would have liked that 2nd photo though... It probably looks like she did 20 years ago....

    I have to be honest, the image I have of her is selling M&S stuff, adn she looks somewhee between the two images, I guess. I don't have a problem with her pic, or anyone else's being airbrushed when she's selling Marks and Spencers Steak and Kidney Pie; that seems like normal vanity to me, but not when she's selling moisturiser for eyes and she's really got crow's feet that even a crow would be wary of, I think it's a bit thick.

  5. Adertising is not a problem, Labour has sorted it all out in the tripartide system established in the "new fuiture for british broadcasting" white paper in 2001.

    Trust you seperatist lot to cause troubles with your lies, leave the poor woman alone natties

    scoff and toff is what you offer
    Peter 'loyal till I die' Labour

  6. Most middle aged blokes like myself prefer women who look their age and see nothing exciting in the airbrushed photos. Must be a nature thing or something. The older I get the more I prefer older looking women. Their character, confidence, personality, imperfections, honesty, smell, taste, intelligent chat, education and experience. So I'm not sure who the airbrushed Lulu like photos are aimed at.

  7. I'm with Jo Swinton on this one. Airbrushing to that extent ought to be banned, especially in magazines and adverts for teenagers. They're the ones who are most impressionable.

  8. I too worry and share concern for the impact and effects that this kind of cynical marketeering can have on the teenagers; most of which all worry exceptionally about their own appearances.

    It does not do to inform them that that is how they should look, when it is unachievable perfection.

    However, this is not to say I favour anything which could detract from the freedoms of these firms to act as they feel like, it is a cynical capitalist world afterall. I suspect we shall all have to trust in the good influences of sound parents.

  9. Peter. Nice to see you. Welcome to Minguin's Republic.

    It seems to me that it has not been sorted out. Although Proctor and Gamble have agreed to replace the photograph with one which has no airbrushing, no one has said that this will be banned in the future.

    I'm not at all sure what my views on independence have to do with this. It seems to me to be a cross border issue, something that teh EU might want to look into. I haven't told any lies and as I pointed out, I haven't a problem with Mrs Lawson, just an advertising campaign that sets out to mislead vulnerable people.

    I don't know anything about you of course but could I ask if you would be happy for a member of your family to believe that if they spend money on this product that they would be able to turn their 60 year old complexion into a 30-40 year old one, and look like photo 2, when clearly they can't.

    No toffs around here Peter.

    Thanks for dropping in though. Everyone welcome at the Republic....

  10. Subrosa. Always nice to see you back here. I agree. I mean I don't care if Twiggy wants to have herself airbrushed to 20 years old in order to sell me Marks and Spencer's overpriced stuff... Clearly when she tells me that the Steak Pie is good, it is a matter of opinion.

    What she looks like is neither here nor there.

    But when she tells me that she looks 25-30 years younger because of some cream she's been plastering over her face, when in fact it is the result of digital interference from a wee man sitting at a screen, then that is sneaky lie telling.

    I think that maybe teenage magazines should have an advertising code of their own.

  11. Dean:

    Surely the freedom to sell your product shouldn't include selling by totally misleading images. It's like marketing a 900cc car and indicating indeed even saying that it will achieve 120 mph.

  12. Anon.

    They are aimed at the women themselves. They maybe don't care that much what guys think. They want to look young. It's a young world and they want to be a part of it. Young looking people get jobs, older ones don't. More and more men are doing it too. People can be really vulnerable, and even very intelligent women and men spend vast amounts on looking young. It's not really a sexual thing.