Beauty ad claims to receive greater scrutiny

Advertising watchdogs are to set up a pool of experts to help rule on contentious claims made in advertisements for cosmetics amid rising concern over misleading spots.

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A “common pool” will be established by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and pre-broadcast advice organisations ClearCast and the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre by the year’s end.

The yet to be named individuals are likely to represent a number of independent bodies and will assess claims made by scientific experts representing cosmetics companies. Currently, the ASA calls on one body, or ClearCast’s experts, to assess claims.

Political pressure, led by Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson and equalities minister Lynne Featherstone, to try and stamp out what they claim are “socially irresponsible” airbrushed campaigns has been mounting.

The two recently scored a win for the campaign by getting two L’Oreal ads withdrawn for using enhanced images of model Christy Turlington and actress Julia Roberts.

The announcement of the pool comes as the results of the ASA’s two-year process review are announced.

As expected, the ASA has rejected calls to charge competitors that want to complain about each other’s ads.

Instead, complainants will be encouraged, but not required, to resolve differences with rivals.

Complaints made by supermarkets against rivals about misleading pricing have been on the rise since the downturn led to a greater focus on price. Broadband providers have also taken their grievances against their rivals to the regulator.

The review also sets out measures to increase the number of informal resolutions. The ASA, which has increased headcount by 10%, has seen complaints soar since its remit was extended to include online marcomms.

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