an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Archive for the ‘Beauty’ Category

L’Oreal True Match: Get Your Airbrushed Finish

Posted by Rosepixie on June 23, 2010

This is a banner ad I came across online for L’Oreal True Match foundation.

The text reads:

L’Oreal Paris

New True Match Roller – Perfecting roll-on makeup

Get your airbrushed finish

Two things bother me about this ad.  First is that the makeup roller looks an awful lot like a paint roller and I don’t want to feel like I’m rolling paint onto my face.  That gets into the “what’s wrong with my face that you think I need so much makeup?” territory.

The second thing that bothers me about this ad is the last line about getting an airbrushed finish.  We all know that the images we see of models all around us are airbrushed, but somehow actually coming out and suggesting that we should all look airbrushed in real life has a very creepy vibe to it.  I don’t want to look airbrushed – I want to look human.  And I know I’m not alone on that one.

So this ad, even with so few words and a single image, managed to give me a lot of creepy, negative impressions.  This is not a great thing for an ad to do.  So, while I think this ad might work for some people, I’m not sure it was a great choice because I think it might turn off as many people as it attracts.


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Vintage Friday: Oil of Olay

Posted by Rosepixie on June 18, 2010

This is an ad from 1979 for Oil of Olay facial cream.

Well, at least we know from this commercial that looking young and products that make impossible and fuzzy promises about helping you do so has been around for at least the past several decades.  Which makes me sad.

When the guy shows up in this ad it suddenly reminded me very much of watching a cheesy soap opera.  I’m not sure if it was because of the corny line, the over-the-top poses or the dripping-with-fake-emotion voice.  Still, the comparison made me laugh.

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L’Oreal Colour Riche Anti-Aging Lipstick: My Face Looks Younger!

Posted by Rosepixie on June 16, 2010

This is a commercial for L’Oreal’s Colour Riche Anti-Aging Lipstick.

She really does claim that her whole face looks younger because of a lipstick.  Seriously?  Is this magic lipstick?  Because I’m pretty sure your face looks flawless because you’re a supermodel and have an army of make-up artists and digital touch-up techs to make it look however you or L’Oreal want it to look.

And the explanation for how the lipstick works is pretty weak.  It’s got some special stuff in the middle that’s supposed to plump and firm lips and is lusciously surrounded by color so bright you can’t tell how plump or firm the lips wearing the color really is in the first place.  How that amounts to making your whole face look younger, I’m not sure.

Basically, this whole ad felt like a lot of smoke and mirrors and empty promises for women who have been taught that looking a day over eighteen is tantamount to being dead.  I’m not impressed and found it annoying enough that it might come to mind next time I’m shopping and make me stay away from anything with L’Oreal on it.

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HTY Gold: How Old?

Posted by Rosepixie on June 9, 2010

This is a magazine ad for a product called HTY Gold that promises to reduce the crepe-paper appearance of aged skin.

The text on the left side of the ad reads:

Prevent and conquer dry, wrinkled, crepe-paper skin!

Hide the Years: HTY Gold

The all-natural solution for aging skin… worth it’s weight in gold!

– No Chemicals, Preservatives, Fragrances or Parabens

– Rich in powerful antioxidants, HTY Gold truly reverses time’s aging effects on your skin

– HTY Gold is the only skin cream you need!  …the only product of it’s kind that alleviates shriveled crepe-paper skin on your face and body.

This ad comes with lots of fuzzy, rather unspecific promises.  What I noticed first about it, however, was the pictures.  The pair of images partway down the right-hand column of the ad showing two arms, one labeled “treated” and one labeled “untreated” seem appropriate for this product.  The untreated arm does indeed display the crepe-papery skin commonly seen on older people (I remember my 90 year old great aunt’s arms being very much like that).

The image above that before and after set, however, seems somewhat out of place.  It shows a tight close-up of a smiling model’s face.  Presumably she’s a happy customer, right?  Except that she appears to have perfect, youthful skin and be perhaps in her 30s, which is much too young to be likely to have crepe-paper arms like the ones shown just below her.  Not that we get to see her arms, of course, because the bit of arm in the picture is covered by a very chic sleeve.

So who is this product aiming for and what is it promising?  It sounds like a product for older people promising to help improve their skin and help them look and feel younger, but it shows a woman much younger than that suggesting they are either promising more than they could possibly offer (unless this is magic genie-cream) or that they are hoping to sell their product to younger women who don’t really need it.  Either way, it seems like a bad marketing decision to have chosen this model or image for this ad.

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Weight Watchers: To Love Yourself

Posted by Rosepixie on June 2, 2010

This is a recent commercial for Weight Watchers featuring Jennifer Hudson (a singer/actress).

I actually really didn’t mind this commercial this much until she said that having lost weight “makes me love myself that much more”.  And that brought me up short.  At first glance, that statement isn’t so bad.  Great, she loves herself more now than she did before.  But if you think about what it’s telling the viewers, and more specifically the target audience of people who might want or need to lose some weight, it’s not such a great statement.  If losing weight is good because it will make you love yourself more, than that means that you aren’t as worthy of your own love until you lose that weight.

And that’s not a good message at all.  Because while I think Weight Watchers does a better job than most of showing healthy body shapes in their ads and not overly encouraging unhealthy body images, they aren’t in a vacuum.  Their sort of unspecific weight loss ads really only work because there’s so much other stuff in our media that tells us what “fat” is and when you need to lose weight (which, sadly, is pretty much all the time if you’re a woman).  And worse, Jennifer Hudson specifically has a lot of teenage fans, so using her as a spokesperson is going to get their attention more than if they had featured someone else.  And teenage girls already have a hard enough time learning that they can love themselves (even beyond concerns about body size or shape or anything).  Is it really a good idea to reinforce to them that they’d be more lovable if they looked different?

While I think that Jennifer Hudson could be a great spokesperson for Weight Watchers, I think that this one line makes this an incredibly irresponsible and potentially dangerous ad.  Even if it’s true for her that she loves herself more, that’s more indicative of the problems we have than something to be celebrated and passed on to other people.  It’s absolutely something worth talking about – but a thirty second ad spot isn’t long enough to do that in, nor is discussing such an issue the focus of an advertisement like this.  I think this is a pretty horrible ad and wish I could expect better from Weight Watchers.

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Chanel Coco Mademoiselle: Not so Elegant

Posted by Rosepixie on May 26, 2010

This is a magazine ad for Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, a perfume.

Chanel is a very famous French fashion line started by a very famous designer named Coco Chanel, so it makes sense for them to name one of their fragrances after their famous designer.  What I don’t understand is the image paired with the fragrance here.  Coco Chanel was famous for her simple elegance, which was something of a revelation to the fashion world.  She basically invented the “little black dress” and her suits were classic (updated versions of her suit designs are still staples of the fashion house’s offerings even today).  She’s legendary even beyond the fashion world (how many fashion designers have picture book biographies written of them?).

And no company is in a better position to evoke her memory than Chanel itself.  They could have put a model in one of their signature suits, so like the ones she wore but with a slight modern twist.  Or dressed one in a little black dress with strands of pearls.  Elegance and simplicity – modern and classic all in one perfectly tailored and accessorized package.

But they inexplicably chose to pair the fragrance named for this legendary designer with a nude model posing with a mens’ shirt draped across her lap and a mens’ hat clutched to her chest (oh, and jewels, because she’s clearly a high class girl).  I can’t figure it out.  It’s just about the last thing I would have chosen to evoke Coco.  Maybe a tree or a vampire bat would have been lower on the list, but this would be pretty far down.

The only explanation I can come up with is that they wanted to covey the idea of sex appeal and for some unknown reason the only way advertisers seem to know how to do that these days is through having naked (or mostly naked) girls in their ads.  And sometimes that works for the product, but part of advertising is matching the ads to the product and in that respect I think this particular ad fails spectacularly.  Sorry, Chanel, but this is not a perfume I’d buy based on this ad.  I’d love to feel like I have a little piece of Coco’s elegance, but if this is what that perfume evokes, it’s not going to help me with that goal.

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Chanel No. 5: A Mini Movie

Posted by Rosepixie on May 19, 2010

This ad is from several years ago (2004, I believe), but it’s a little different and was a pretty big deal when it came out, so I wanted to talk a little about it.  It’s for Chanel No. 5, a very famous perfume, and was directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Nicole Kidman.

I found this ad to be kind of intriguing when it first came out.  It’s basically a three minute movie.  The story is simple, as it would have to be for such a short time span, but the film doesn’t feel that simple.  There are interesting elements from the costuming to the sets.

Throughout it all, however, you can never forget that it’s an ad for Chanel.  It may be a short movie, but this is more than just product placement – the brand is literally at the center of the action.  And yet it’s never mentioned by name.  No one ever says “Chanel”.  It’s right there in big, lit-up letters, but never spoken.  We know the ad is specifically for Chanel No. 5 perfume only because of the reference to “her perfume” in the voiceover as the camera zooms in on the diamond charm on the back of Kidman’s gown, which reads “No. 5”.

So even though it’s never said specifically out loud, there’s really never any question what this is an ad for (or even that it is an ad).  That coyness works in this instance, it helps to associate the product with the glamor and mystery that Kidman is evoking throughout the mini-movie ad.  And, presumably, the company is hoping that we, as consumers, will be more interested in the perfume because of those associations.  We’ll think that it’s the kind of perfume we should wear when we want to feel glamorous and mysterious.

And maybe it is.  After all, Chanel No. 5 has managed to maintain it’s status as an important player in the perfume industry for almost ninety years – no easy feat!

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Gillette Odor Shield: Science and Technology!

Posted by Rosepixie on May 12, 2010

This is a magazine ad for Gillette Odor Shield deodorant and body wash for men.

The text reads:

Help eliminate odor: don’t just cover it up.

10X more odor protection coverage when used together

Introducing Gillette’s line of odor shield products.

Odor Shield Anti-Perspirant and Body Wash help eliminate body odor instead of just covering it up.  Odor shield technology targets and neutralizes body odor at the source.  And when used together, you get 10X more odor protection coverage.  So you can perform under pressure.

Targets: Shield zeroes in on odor

Neutralizes: Odor counteracted at the source

Protects: Helps eliminate body odor

This ad uses all of the hard-hitting “we use science!” cues that I’m used to seeing in ads for anti-aging makeup.  It’s primarily black and red (what is it about black and red that suggests serious science to advertising designers?), uses lots of outlines to direct your eye and suggest steps the product is going through in some sort of high-tech process, shows geometric shapes to suggest molecules or other “sciency” things, and gives completely unexplained numbers with no backing data (in this case – “10X more effective”).

Does this promise of serious science and high technology give me any more faith in the product?  Not really.  If you actually read what it says, it’s basically saying what every single product that promises to reduce or prevent body odor says.  This ad seems to be relying almost entirely on the “science” gimmick to sell it’s product.  The problem is that science means data and data is one thing that is conspicuously absent from this ad.  And that’s the problem.

In this day and age I expect that every product I buy had science involved in its creation somewhere along the line, whether it was in the initial development, practical creation or testing for safety and effectiveness.  Science isn’t a novelty – it’s the norm.  So why is your science special?  What does it tell us?  If it shows that your product is more effective, then tell us how much more, how it’s more effective and why it’s more effective.  And don’t forget that “more” is a relative term, so it’s vital that you tell us what it’s more effective than.

Basically, if you’re selling me something on the basis of science, you’d better either be showing me science or data of some kind to explain why that’s such a selling point or I’m going to assume that “science” is a selling point because you never used it before, which makes me doubt both your credibility and reliability.  Like I said – science is used in everything.  Every food you buy at the grocery store (even the vegetables in the produce department that are marked “organic”) have science and technology behind their being there.  So if you haven’t been using science until now to create a beauty product, I’m going to question the safety and validity of your products.

So I think that this ad needs some major rethinking.  Where did that “10X more effective” number come from?  How is this any different from any other anti-perspirant?  If you want to use data – use data.  But stop with the red/black shorthand for science.  Consumers are pretty savvy and can handle a few numbers.  It might even impress some of them.  But this technique is getting old.

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Organic Liaison: Magic Shrinking Potion

Posted by Rosepixie on May 5, 2010

This is an animated advertisement featuring Kirstie Alley, a businessman and a fireman (don’t ask me) for a weight loss program called Organic Liaison.

I find this commercial to be incredibly weird.  First of all, when I first saw the commercial I assumed it was selling some kind of pink weight-loss drink, not an actual program with all the bells and whistles that weight loss programs generally come with – but it’s for a program, not a drink.

Beyond that, I thought that the “thin” version of Alley looked incredibly freakish.  Her clothing appears to be falling off and her limbs look like they could break any minute.  And she’s animated – she didn’t have to look frail.  Yet I honestly think that the “fat” version of Kirstie Alley in this commercial is considerably more attractive than the “thin” version.  She’s got nice curves, her clothes flatter her, she’s big, but not crazy-unhealthy-all-over-the-place fat.  And her face isn’t pointy.  She looks good.

I’m not sure what’s with the businessman and the fireman, but I assume they are supposed to somehow suggest that this program is for anyone, not just famous people like Alley.  I found the static people on the stairs behind them to be odd (especially the little old woman holding yet another bottle of the magic pink drink).

So what is with the pink drink?  No idea.  None of the products in the program look like that pink juice bottle.  Nor does the program seem to involve lots and lots of chugging magic potions.  It does involve a bunch of products that sound an awful lot like magic potions and have not been evaluated by the FDA, so I have no idea how effective they actually are (probably about as effective as most weight loss programs – as effective as the effort you put into them makes them).

This all means that I don’t think that this ad is actually very good.  It doesn’t show what it’s selling in any way that makes sense, it suggests magic and totally unrealistic results and the animation actually shows us an attractive woman becoming a scary, pointy lady who reminded me of a someone who kind of reminded me of a witch with her pointy chin and scary stick limbs.  This is not a good way to sell something.  And worse, it reinforces the idea that women should be the kind of unhealthy thin that you can really only achieve through eating disorders like anorexia.  Not a good message.

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Clinique: Whiten Your Teeth with Lipstick

Posted by Rosepixie on April 28, 2010

I came across this magazine ad for Clinique lipstick recently and just had to post it.

The text reads:

Clinique can’t whiten your teeth.

But we can brighten your smile.  Instantly.

Fact: on application, Clinique’s specially designed lipstick colours create a contrast that brightens your smile.  Using a dental colour guide we confirmed it: each smile was at least one shade brighter.

So here you have it: the wow of whiter teeth in pearls and buttery shades in nudes, goldens, pinks, berries.  12 shades in all.

Still not convinced?  See the before and after at  Or see it for yourself.  Stop by any Clinique Counter for a complementary try-on of any and all shades in Clinique’s Brighter Smile Collection.


Allergy tested.  100% fragrance free.

I find this claim very strange.  I have no problem believing that a lipstick and make a smile seem brighter, but I can’t see how it could make any real changes that would show up on a color guide.  Because it’s not actually changing the color of your teeth, it’s just an optical illusion.  And that can work great – I’m not saying it’s not a totally worthwhile way to make teeth appear whiter – but it’s not true shade changing.

The image of the red lipstick with the white toothbrush seems to reinforce the claim that this lipstick can make your teeth look whiter.  It’s a well put together image for the rather deceptive claim.

I just kind of have a problem with that deceptive claim.  Despite starting with the sentence “Clinique can’t whiten your teeth”, the entire block of text seems to be trying to convince the reader that they can do exactly that!  It’s annoying.  So I don’t like this ad very much, despite the fact that I actually think it’s a good angle for a lipstick line to take in their marketing and I’m a little surprised I haven’t seen anyone else using it.

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