Litigation: Photoshop—the next false advertising risk?

Cases of digitally manipulated cosmetics ads in the UK should give U.S. companies pause

A series of recent U.K. false advertising rulings involving digitally manipulating photographs raise new questions about potential liability risks. On Oct. 24, the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a Christian Dior mascara ad featuring Natalie Portman. The ad for Dior’s New Look Mascara made the claims: “Lash-multiplying effect volume and care mascara. The miracle of a nano brush for an unrivalled lash creator effect. It delivers spectacular volume-multiplying effect, lash by lash.” The accompanying full-page photo shows a stunning Mrs. Portman with lashes long, lovely, beyond human.

Dior’s competitor, L’Oreal UK, challenged the advertisement as just that—a distortion of reality. Filing a complaint with ASA, L’Oreal alleged that the image misleadingly exaggerated the likely effects of the product. During the subsequent ASA investigation, Dior admitted that Portman’s lashes had, in fact, been digitally enhanced and lengthened in post-production using Photoshop software.

Contributing Author

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Dave Barnard

Mr. Barnard is a first-chair trial lawyer. He has litigated patent, trademark, false advertising, copyright, trade secret and other commercial disputes in different courts throughout...

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