Stuart Smith on hair and the ASA

It must be national bad hair week and I hadn’t noticed. Nothing else would explain the sudden profusion of hair-related controversies in the media.

First up is Australian cricket legend Shane Warne and his follicularly-challenged partner in crime Graham Gooch, who have just been banned. Not from cricket, rather the Advertising Standards Authority has cracked down on an ad created for trichologist Advanced Hair Studio – promoting its laser therapy and “strand by strand” technology – to whom our two sporting heroes have been lending not only their prestige but their balding pates.

I’m puzzled as to why the ASA has taken two years to reach such a Draconian verdict. After all, the ad doesn’t actually say that AHS cures hair loss.

Which moves me on to the case of Cheryl Cole’s false locks. How come that Elvive can get away with plying a palpably false impression of bountiful, bouncing, natural hair, while AHS isn’t even given the benefit of a few reimplanted strands? The ASA found in favour of Elvive because it provided subliminally small disclaimers about Cheryl’s hair not being entirely her own (quite a lot is nylon, I gather). This is not, I’m afraid, a finding which sits happily within the ASA remit of upholding “legal, decent, honest and truthful” advertising.

The third bad hair advertising controversy is not so much a case of fairness as of silliness. I refer to the opening rounds of our forthcoming General Election campaign and the two stunningly original poster ads it has so far produced – one for the Conservative Party (Euro RSCG) and one for Labour (Saatchi & Saatchi), both pillorying each other as the Jedwards, whose twin misfortunes are to have been evicted from X Factor, and to be burdened with a hairstyle that must make Shane Warne think twice about the wisdom of hair implants.

The ASA won’t be allowed to touch these ads, more’s the pity.

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