International round-up: France forces brands to label retouched pics & Unilever goes organic

Plus Facebook admits 10 million people saw Russian-backed ads and P&G looks to highlight pollution damage in Thailand.


Unilever buys Brazilian organic food business

Consumer goods giant Unilever has been on an unrelenting mission to diversify its business. And earlier this week, it made its third acquisition in less than a month with the purchase of Brazilian natural and organic food business Mãe Terra for an undisclosed sum.

Mãe Terra targets health-conscious consumers with organic food products. It operates in several categories with a portfolio that includes organic cereals, biscuits, snacks and other culinary products.

“We are excited about this acquisition. Mãe Terra has a great following in Brazil and strengthens our food portfolio, allowing us to accelerate our expansion in the high-growth naturals and organic segment,” says Fernando Fernandez, president of Unilever Brazil.

The news comes a week after Unilever revealed it was buying Carver Korea, a Korean make-up company, for $2.7bn. Meanwhile, in September it bought UK-based organic herbal tea and supplement company Pukka Herbs for an undisclosed sum.

READ MORE: Unilever Buys Brazil’s Mae Terra Organic Food Business for Undisclosed Sum

France to fine advertisers for secretly retouching photos

The retouching of images has become increasingly commonplace in advertising, but France considers it a thorn in the eye of the profession. To crack down on the issue, the country is introducing new rules which stipulate that some digitally altered images must come with a disclaimer.

The law says any models appearing in commercial photography whose bodies have been made thinner or thicker by image processing software must be accompanied by the notice of “photographie retouchée”, or retouched photograph.

And you might want to think twice before breaking the rules. Failure to comply is punishable by a fine of more than $44,000 or 30% of the money spent on advertising.

France has a history of taking a stand against the promotion of unhealthy body images. In 2015, it passed a law aimed at banning the hiring of models deemed “excessively thin,” reports The Fashion Law.

READ MORE: France aims to get real: Retouched photos of models now require a label

Unilever: China remains behind with digital transparency

Media transparency has repeatedly proven a hot topic at conferences this year. This was also the case at Advertising Week New York.

During a panel, Unilever discussed the “phenomenal” transformation the Chinese digital ecosystem has undergone, but insisted it remains behind in terms of transparency.

Luis Di Como, Unilever’s senior vice president for global media, described the Chinese landscape as being a “bit behind” and “copycats of Western players” when he first took on his current role at the start of 2011.

He said: “[Another] of the key differences between the West and the Chinese ecosystem are the issues related to the overall digital ecosystem, so ad fraud, viewability, brand safety measurement: I cannot see this as a wall as it is in the Western world. I think there is a lot more work to do in that area to make a clear and transparent way to give the confidence to the whole industry. That is important to know.”

READ MORE: ‘More work to be done on Chinese transparency’, says Unilever global media head

Facebook admits up to 10 million people saw Russian-backed election ads


Facebook has faced a lot of criticism this year; from overestimated video metrics to allowing Russia to “meddle” in the US election by taking out political ads.

The social media giant now says as many as 10 million people saw the political advertisements that were purchased by a Russian internet agency and ran on its platform.

The company made the announcement after turning over 3,000 ads to congressional investigators examining Russian interference in the US election.

Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice-president of policy and communications, said the advertisements appeared to focus on “divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights”.

Less than half of the ads were seen prior to the US election on 8 November, Schrage said in the post, while 56% were viewed after. And roughly a quarter of the ads were not seen by anyone. On 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent, he said.

Facebook has come under growing pressure from lawmakers and the public to disclose more details about Russia’s use of the platform to spread disinformation and propaganda as part of an influence campaign ahead of the elections.

READ MORE: Facebook says up to 10m people saw ads bought by Russian agency

P&G looks to highlight pollution damage in Thailand

Procter & Gamble-owned Pantene has moved away from the usual advertisements showing models flicking their shiny hair by setting up several gigantic billboards made of ‘hair’ for its latest campaign.

‘The Hair Falling Billboard’ is a series of enormous outdoor ads made to mimic human hair. Using a the real-time air pollution measurement system, the billboard released a lock of hair every time the air pollution index exceeded the acceptable standard of 50 PSI.

In just 10 days, all the hair on the billboard had completely fallen down. However, revealed behind the hair is an ad for Pantene’s ‘hair fall control’ series.

READ MORE: Pantene erects giant billboard made of ‘hair’ to highlight pollution damage

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