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False Images in Advertising

 
 
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 06:59 am
Recently Ralph Lauren came under fire for a couple of photos where the models were so extremely photoshopped that their heads were bigger than their torsos in the pictures. In this week's The Ethicist the writer asks the question should such pictures be banned or come with disclaimers saying it has been photoshopped? The article also links to a faked picture of Andy Roddick (tennis player) with false bulging biceps, so it's not just women (but mostly women). So is picture editing false advertising? If I'm advertising lipstick, but use photoshop to make the rest of the face unnaturally perfect, it that cheating? Is it any different than using makeup or clever photo angles?

My take is that it is different. Any person can buy makeup to try to achieve the same look, but photoshop creations cannot be duplicated by the purchasing public. That said, I don't know what to do about it. If photos must carry a disclaimer, then all photos would have such disclaimers and it would cease to mean anything. Banning them outright would also ban simple changes like lighting or red eye reduction (not that the pros worry about that much.) Thoughts?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 9 • Views: 8,162 • Replies: 24
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DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 08:42 am
@engineer,
As I recall, one of the key components to avoiding a charge of false advertising is that the images you use must be of the actual product you are marketing.

Cornflakes must be cornflakes, even if the "milk" is really white glue, and you picked through eight boxes to find one bowl of "perfect" cornflakes.

If Ralph Lauren (the company) changed the shape or proportions of the parts of the model's body that's wearing the clothes, then it's false advertising. If they just made her head huge, then it's not. (IMO)

DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 08:48 am
@DrewDad,
http://photos-e.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs250.snc1/9717_1215953529246_1541088621_584315_7545247_n.jpg
sozobe
 
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Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 08:59 am
@DrewDad,
No to mention her disturbingly wiggly/ thin left arm!

There was some hubub about this in the NYT recently too -- the magazine I think. I might be thinking of the truly horrible Mark Warner picture, which had the color messed with to unfortunate (!) effect (there are many reasons Obama is now president but I really think that photo was one of 'em, if minor). There was also a non-human photo series that turned out to be manipulated, though (one about foreclosures). And I'm forgetting something else.

It seems like there should be some sort of a disclaimer if the truth of the subject is fundamentally altered in some way. As in: red-eye, fine. (The subject didn't actually have red eyes.) Perfect model skin made into more-perfect-yet model skin, fine. Model body made into something freakily unattainable: say something. (Honestly, I thought it was one of those fake photoshopped things that were going around a while ago to make a statement about actually-thin models -- they were skeletons after photoshopping. I was surprised to learn that Ralph Lauren [the company if not the guy] actually purposely did that.)
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 09:01 am
They aren't selling the girl, they're selling the garment, which they didn't alter, so I don't get at all how someone could call it "false advertising". The RL ad in question was more of a brand building ad than an ad for the particular garment as in that it didn't give the style name or price of anything the model was wearing.

I agree that photoshopping images has gone too far, way too far, (I recently saw an ad that was so 'shopped that the model no longer had kneecaps) but I don't think the technique should be banned.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 09:15 am
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
They aren't selling the girl, they're selling the garment,

But if they're photoshopping, say, the size of her waist, aren't they also photoshopping the garment?

Edit: Looking at the image in the article, it looks to me like the head and arms were "embiggened". Her right wrist is bent oddly, and her hand appears huge in relation to her hip.

That's what I'm talking about; if they altered the appearance of the garment, then (IMO) it should be false advertising. If they only altered non-garment portions of the model's body, then it's weird but not false advertising.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 09:28 am
@DrewDad,
The more I look at that image, the weirder it is.

Her shoulders are level. Her right arm is held at a substantially different angle than her left, but her elbows are at exactly the same height. If her arms were at her sides, her right elbow would be lower than her left, and both elbows would be nearly to her hips.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 09:31 am
@sozobe,
Not only did Ralph Lauren do it, they tried to muzzle the web site that brought it to light with cease and desist orders! Of course all these magazines do this all the time now and advertising is international, so one country's laws may be unenforcable elsewhere. I just saw aChinese team that developed software so that all you have to do is sketch out what you want and the software will search the Internet for appropriate pictures and photoshop them together. Do you come to a point where pictures have no credibility?
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 09:35 am
@engineer,
as someone pointed out, if you wanted to see altered/photoshopped images in advertising check out food ads.
0 Replies
 
eoe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 09:37 am
@DrewDad,
So, what's considered altering the garment? Wrinkles and folds in dresses, pants, jackets, etc. are pretty much always airbrushed out or softened at least in advertising imagery to appear less obtrusive and sloppy. Garments have been presented in photographs that way for decades. Believe me, if you saw an unretouched image next to a retouched one, you'd select the retouched one as what you'd want to see in advertising.

But this has always been my question"would it be the same for Playboy? The last time I saw one (it's been quite awhile now), those girls were so overly airbrushed, they look plastic, like Barbie dolls. Would a male reader of Playboy select an airbrushed centerfold image or would he prefer the natural image, with every scar, pockmark and skin imperfection visible? Hmmmmm...?
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 09:42 am
Strangely enough, the model from that photo was fired for being too fat.

But this isn't the first time RL has made this "mistake":

http://lh4.ggpht.com/_EHZsoUS6SIA/StY2WWUA-xI/AAAAAAAAFDw/RTwa1ca64WU/ralphbloodylaurenagain.jpg

Since the beginning of fashion photography there have been ways to fake "fit" so I don't think this is really anything new -- just a new way of faking it.

Where photoshopping does bother me is in the case of Dove soap's "campaign for real beauty" where they photoshopped the crap out of the models anyway.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 09:43 am
@eoe,
So, do the false advertising rules only apply to certain industries?
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 09:47 am
That RL picture was truly distrubing to me.

From a purely visual standpoint, it made the model look absolutely cartoonish, and in my opinion, hideous.
As was pointed out in one of the articles I read (sorry engineer, didn't click on your link, might be the one I'm refering to) her head is wider than her hips!

I know this has been said ad nauseum, but I'll say it again. What kind of message is this sending?

Buying clothes isn't a fantasy, like looking at the pictures in a playboy.

I want to know what the damn pants look like when worn by something shaped like a human being.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 10:44 am
@chai2,
Buying clothes isn't a fantasy but fashion is, in my opinion.

chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 11:06 am
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

Buying clothes isn't a fantasy but fashion is, in my opinion.




yeah, the people in the fashion industry are the one's fantasizing, and are totally out of touch with who are buying the clothes.

For instance, that disaster of a photo above.
Who in the world wants to buy clothes to look like that?
That isn't even what women want to look like, or what men want women to look like.

I think the people that come up with this stuff are doing it to entertain themselves.
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 11:33 am
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  0  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 11:34 am
@boomerang,
Quote:
They aren't selling the girl, they're selling the garment, which they didn't alter, so I don't get at all how someone could call it "false advertising".


Finally a sane and sober statement that makes sense.

Alter the appearance of the model? Who cares? What's dishonest about that? You gonna complain that the car wasn't really photographed atop an inaccessible mesa but in a studio? Sheesh.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 12:06 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Merry Andrew wrote:

Quote:
They aren't selling the girl, they're selling the garment, which they didn't alter, so I don't get at all how someone could call it "false advertising".


Finally a sane and sober statement that makes sense.

Alter the appearance of the model? Who cares? What's dishonest about that? You gonna complain that the car wasn't really photographed atop an inaccessible mesa but in a studio? Sheesh.


but, the car still looks like the car will look to you when you get it home.

for a person to tell how clothes will look, they should be on a person, manniquen, some kind of form that will show how the clothes themselves look.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 01:52 pm
@chai2,
Disagree. If the clothes look like the clothes, there isn't a problem. It's up to you to decide if the clothes will make you look like the model. Suppose they were shown being worn by a mannikin. Would you expect to put them on and look like a department store mannikin?
eoe
 
  2  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 02:11 pm
I tell you. I've spent my entire career in advertising, retail, fashion, beauty, and this image is just so totally and deliberately whack and out of proportion, I cannot believe that the Lauren crew meant for it to actually run. This may sound crazy but I would not be surprised if these 2 ads"which I have never seen in Vogue, Bazaar, InStyle or any of the fashion mags I read monthly"were gag images somehow switched with the ads meant for publication and that could be why the Lauren people fought so hard to keep them under wraps. They were never actually meant to be seen.

Where exactly did these ads run?
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