Oh, For God Sakes

From today's AZ Republic

Women have wrinkles, pores and curves. And there's a movement across the world to make sure advertisers can no longer pretend otherwise.

Now, that movement has come to Arizona.

House Bill 2793, proposed by Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, would require advertisers who alter or enhance a photo to put a disclaimer on that ad alerting customers that "Postproduction techniques were made to alter the appearance in this advertisement. When using this product, similar results may not be achieved."

Really?  You mean my wife isn't going to suddenly look like Demi Moore if she uses Dove soap?  Next you are going to tell me that drinking Miller Lite does not cause me to suddenly be surrounded by hot women.

Update:  Apprarently this is about empowering women by treating them like moronic rubes

"As an organization, we are all about empowering women and eliminating discrimination," Richard said. "We want to make sure that young women get a better start and better self-image."

He said girls need to understand that these photos aren't all real. Someone has airbrushed out the model's wrinkles and pores, or put a woman's head on top of a computer-generated perfect body.

"You need to disclose that so our young women don't grow up thinking a poreless face is possible," he said. "That's not the way that I think anyone wants to raise their daughters."


  1. Hasdrubal:

    Prediction: Lots of soft focus, low lighting, high contrast, and/or burned out/overexposed images coming to advertisements near you. Those aren't postproduction, after all.

  2. Barak A. Pearlmutter:

    "Really? You mean my wife isn’t going to suddenly look like Demi Moore if she uses Dove soap?"

    I think the point is that even Demi Moore doesn't look like the figure in that image, which is not really a photograph.

    One role libertarians often envision for govt in the marketplace is to help ensure that both parties to a transaction have as complete information as practical, and to discourage fraud or concealing relevant information. In this light, it is not really so unreasonable to require disclosure of facts. Like, that something may appear to be a photograph of a beautiful woman using this product, but is not, and is instead an artfully manipulated image designed to look like a photograph.

  3. Dan:

    Lawyers are taking over. Disclaimers are getting out of hand all across advertising. I've always loved those ads that show cars racing through city streets (which of course are empty) and the little sign comes up on the bottom of the screen: "Professional driver - do not attempt."

    Or the little sign at the bottom of the Wheat Chex box: "Warning - this product contains wheat."

  4. NL_:

    This is in response to 'Barak A. Pearlmutter.'

    I don't think it's really libertarian to start dictating all the various representations that advertisers have to make to potential customers. If a company claims a product creates a certain result, then that is something a customer can reasonably expect from the product. But simply finding attractive or interesting or exciting ways to present products is not the same as a claim that the product creates those results.

    Of course, the far more effective and faster way to punish companies with bad products is customers either asking for refunds or refusing to repurchase the product. That way each consumer decides (often in repeated transactions over the course of months and years) what tradeoff between cost and results is accurate for them. It's also flexible enough that millions of people can come to different balances. You could have a sizeable chunk who don't like the cost-benefit tradeoff, another chunk who love it, and then a third portion who will sometimes engage in that tradeoff but other times will choose a competing product instead. Way more flexible than litigation, which in the best case results in a change to advertising (but not the product) and a big payout to lawyers paid for by shareholders and future consumers.

    Getting the government involved may sound like it's not entirely inconsistent with free markets (since it's not a moralizing prohibition, just a rule intended to promote choice and competition) but the result would be a huge apparatus of lawyers, judges, paralegals, analysts and vendors implementing an unwieldy regulatory system that hinges far more on the choices of advertisers than on the cost or results of a given product. The costs will be shifted to consumers, either in the form of higher product costs (to offset the future risk of litigation or regulation) or products simply being unavailable because the price is well above comparable substitutes.

    I have a libertarian suggestion, then. If you're dead-set on the idea that advertisers should not mislead, then you start a certifying organization to make sure the ads don't use misleading methods. If the certification is valuable to anybody, you can find a way to use it to encourage people to buy products with complying advertisements. Maybe a website with a list of appropriate advertisements, maybe some sort of award or certificate ceremony to highlight standout ads. Or maybe the opposite, a consumer advocacy group with a blacklist for deceptive ads.

    Basically, go out and start a group either like a Kosher certification board (monitoring for Kashrut compliance) or a Christian-values pressure group (listing naughty movies). If people really agree with you and fear misleading ads, then one or both forms should have enough value to sustain themselves.

  5. Arthur Felter:

    Hey, don't leave Barbi out of this! She's not realistic, so maybe we should put the same disclaimer on packages of Barbi's.

    (I'm still pissed that I didn't end up looking like GI Joe. What the hell?!)

  6. me:

    personally, I think it's high time to add a disclaimer to all products about how one can waste precious lifetime by paying too much attention to disclaimers.

  7. Ted Rado:

    Why all the fuss? Since the dawn of time, advertizers have been trying to convince women that if they use Product X, they will look like Miss America when they are ninety and they will be pursued by an army of handsome men. Then they convince men that using Product Y will get them buried under a heap of sex-crazed gorgeous women. Anybody that believes that crap deserves to get fleeced. The government should stay out of it and let idiots be idiots. Personally, those ads turn me off and I DO NOT buy the product.

  8. delurking:

    "Next you are going to tell me that drinking Miller Lite does not cause me to suddenly be surrounded by hot women."

    Well, it will, at least compared to other beers. Seriously, if you are at an establishment that is only serving Miller Lite, you are far more likely to be surrounded by hot women than if you are at an establishment that serves Ommegang.

  9. just a guy:

    What you may not know is that the U.K. already has such laws in place, and they were recently enforced against L'Oreal.


  10. Rick Caird:

    I seem to remember all those disclaimers on the Playboy centerfold when I was kid. Oh, wait....

  11. JamesB:

    It must be because parents are incapable of simply telling daughters, if any, how the world works. How to deal with movies and TV besides? Running disclaimers at the bottom? "This guy is not really being killed." Or, "This girl and this guy are not really in love." Or, "This guy is not really picking up his daughter from a high-rise with a Harrier jump-jet he can hardly fly while another dude tries to kill him and her but instead gets killed (but not really)."

    You know because daughters cannot learn.

  12. marco73:

    Thank God we have photo touchups. Has anyone ever seen high school photo day before they run the pictures through some software to "clean" them up?
    If they want real truth in advertising, require that they run the DMV photo of any person in the picture along with each ad. But make sure to enforce that requirement for all political ads, too.

  13. mahtso:

    I think Mr. Pearlmutter is correct. This can easily be seen as a form of false advertising.

    If I advertise that a product will eliminate acne and show before and after pictures that have been photo-shopped to remove the acne, should there be a disclaimer? If I advertise that a car has 200 hp should you be able to rely on that? Or should you assume that I have doctored the test result?

    Although most of the commenters are smart enough to see through false claims, where should we draw the line? Do people want no regulation? So if you don’t have an engineer independently test the hp, tough for you? Or if the blogger advertises free admission at a camp ground, but when I get there, they say sorry that was a lie, tough for me?

    Ask for a refund? On what basis? If false advertising is allowed, why should I refund your money because you were not smart enough to know I was lying? And it seems to me that even though people may catch on to LLC #1 and put it out of business, those same people will be back as LLC # 2, 3 and 4.

  14. Not Sure:

    "Do people want no regulation?"

    Regulation by whom? The government?

    There isn't a bigger pack of liars on the planet. Are you willing to trust them to do the job properly and without favoritism?

    Surely you've heard of Underwriters Laboratory. They evaluate products and it appears plenty of businesses think highly enough of their opinions to want to get their seal of approval for the products they sell.

    Do you think it might be possible that companies selling cosmetics would be interested in being able to advertise that their products have been independently tested and proven effective?

  15. IGotBupkis, Three Time Winner of the Silver Sow Award:

    >>> You mean my wife isn’t going to suddenly look like Demi Moore if she uses Dove soap?

    I hope not, she's starting to look cadaverous.

  16. mahtso:

    Not Sure,

    UL is a great example: in fact I’ll start advertising that my products are UL approved. So what if they are not, who is going to stop me if there is no government regulation? UL? I think not because its only recourse (short of violence or other use of force) is to sue for misappropriation of its name. How will that work without governmental involvement? And, if the government is the “bigge[st] pack of liars” how can I trust its courts to resolve the matter once it gets involved?

    As to advertising that products are “independently tested and proven effective,” that sounds like what the tobacco companies did in the 50s.

  17. Goober:

    mahtso - laws against fraud were never considered to be anything but common sense. Making a provably false statement about your product is fradulent. There is a huge difference between trusting the government to test and report and regulate products, and having laws on the books that prevent fradulent representation.

    I'm really hoping that you can see that.

    The standard in our industry, any time a government testing agency and a private testing agency are available to do the testing, is that everybody but government entities yuse the private testing agency because they do a better, more concise, more clear, and less expensive job. Look up ASTM, UL, AWWA, and a gazillion other independent testing agencies. They are successful business models, provide a good product, for less money, and with a lot more clarity and less BS. You don't want government involved in that mess. You just need the government to be there to take care of criminal activity. Like Fraud. Like saying "UL approved" when it isn't. Two very different things.

  18. mahtso:

    So some false advertising is ok, but not all of it? If it is not provably false that's ok?

    UL Approved means what? Uncle Louie approved? If I mean Uncle Louie approved, is it fraud to say UL approved? These private organizations only work if there is government regulation to back them up.

    I think private testing is a good idea and I have not advocated for the government to be in the testing business. The issue being addressed was something akin to whether or not false advertising laws are necessary or whether or not they are a good idea.