With all the talk around the importance of trust and credibility, especially in relation to brands and celebrities, why is it that the advertisers responsible for creating campaigns for leading cosmetic brands choose to ignore these lessons and continue to use post-production techniques to enhance products, giving the illusion of unachievable results?

The main culprit usually getting into hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as well as regularly receiving public condemnation is L’Oréal. Opting to use disclaimers that are vaguely legible on most of its promotional materials, lines such as “enhanced during post production” or “styled with natural inserts” are all too familiar to the cosmetics giant. This is now standard practise in product advertising for many cosmetic brands and L’Oréal is by no means an exception.

A couple of the most recent cases include the L’Oréal Elvive Full Restore 5 advert which features Cheryl Cole, along with her false hair extensions. During the advert, a message flashes on screen for fewer than two seconds out of the 30 second advert to alert viewers that Cheryl’s hair is ‘styled with some natural extensions’. The ASA rejected viewer complaints about the inability of achieving the same results as the disclaimer was apparently clear and legible, and did not break any rules. Procter & Gamble brand, Olay, also recently received viewer complaints for airbrushing Twiggy in the Olay Definity Eye Illuminator advert. As the product claimed it could help women achieve ‘younger looking eyes’, the ASA ruled that it could be deemed as misleading.

So what effect does what can arguably be described as misleading advertising have on consumer perceptions of such brands? Edelman’s 2010 Trust Barometer suggested that in the UK especially ‘a company I can trust’ (72 per cent) is the top driver for corporate reputation in the UK, followed also by ‘high quality products and services’ (62 per cent). This being the case, one would assume that public opinion and trust in cosmetics brands would have diminished – but surprisingly not according to sales figures. L’Oréal in particular reported that its profits beat market predictions in H1 FY09, and global demand for products continues to increase. It seems consumers are not ready to stand-up to these brands and continue to strive for perfection, no matter how deceptive adverts continue to be. 

The ASA published a health and beauty survey towards the end of last year which reported that 95 per cent of cosmetics adverts comply with regulations. Ironically the five per cent of adverts that breached the code were identified to contain a lack of sufficient scientific evidence to back up claims, exaggerated claims about the efficacy of products, or contained misleading claims. Surely more than five per cent of adverts could be included in these categories? 

These brands should take more responsibility for the messages they develop and align them correctly with product capabilities instead of making unachievable claims. Or is it up to the ASA to tighten regulations and critique adverts before they go on air? Or maybe it’s up to consumers to stop buying in on ridiculous claims?


Last week, an all too familiar story: Marisa, from the Barcelona office, had her husband come home from work with lousy news.  Due to an out of town workshop (on a Saturday!!) she would have to reschedule a well-planned dinner at St. Pau located seaside near Barcelona.  Normally Marisa is pretty flexible with these things but this was special – in 2008 St. Pau was awarded three Michelin Stars!

So, as Valentine´s Day approaches we wondered how many people are facing similar situations and how they plan to compensate their loved ones for their absence, especially those attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona from the 14-18 of February. Over 50,000 delegates and visitors are anticipated to attend this year’s conference and exhibition, which means many postponed celebrations and cancelled dinners – although hopefully not at three Michelin Star restaurants.

To keep with the technology themed Mobile World Congress we sent out a survey to find out just how people would use technology to compensate their loved ones in the event of their absence on Valentine´s Day. 

It turns out that women more often turn to one-to-one communications and men prefer to ‘broadcast’ their affections.  According to the survey, 59% more women than men would use Skype with video service or equivalent to call their partner and  67% more women than men would send a personal video message via email while out of town.  Male respondents to the survey invariably preferred the one-to-many approach with 70% more men than women proposing to dedicate a Twitter post to their other half.

The survey also produced some interesting country differences, with Spanish respondents demonstrating the highest levels of ingenuity with the use of newer technology; 50% of Spanish respondents would probably or certainly use Skype with video or equivalent to communicate their sentiments if absent on Saint Valentine’s Day compared to a global average of 29%, while over a third of Spaniards would send a personalised video from their mobile phone (compared to a global average of just 13%). 

The least romantic nation in technology terms is Ireland!  According to the survey, 67% of Irish respondents wouldn’t even send a text message to their partner if absent during Saint Valentine’s Day, against a global average of 42%.

It is clear that technology is embedded in our lives and according to our survey can play a key role in keeping your significant other satisfied in the event of an absence.  So, do you think that texting isn’t very romantic, but it is the thought that counts?  Have you or your significant other ever used technology in a creative way to show how much you care?  How would you use technology to communicate your absence on Valentine’s Day?

There’s been substantial interest in the news this week about the Stateside launch of Vevo – an online music player that is being dubbed MTV for the 2.0 generation, and perhaps rightly so. Firstly, the service has the buy-in of three of the major labels (at present, EMI, Universal and Sony), and has done so by novel means; EMI has gone down the tried and tested licensing routes, but interestingly the latter majors have gone for equity in the business. This equity approach shows a robust confidence of the service and perhaps also suggests the licensing route is perhaps going to wane in entertainment industries if major labels can instead get a share of the profits outright.
Secondly, what Vevo looks to have solved was the perhaps fundamental flaw in
Google’s high value acquisition of YouTube, with many analysts and industry commentators at a loss as to where the return on investment was really coming from, given the vast majority of content on YouTube is poor quality, grainy and often filmed from another medium in the first place, such as a TV or is a skateboarding cat. Would record labels want to have their brand next to a poor quality music video – pretty much no, and YouTube continues to flatter to deceive with regards giving Google back the billions spent to acquire it. That YouTube is powering Vevo however could resolve this; Vevo will be a branded, dedicated player with high quality content that will interest advertisers much more than current video quality – its CEO has suggested phenomenally strong rates as high as $25 – $40 per 1,000 views, an incredible jump from today’s norm of $3 – $8.
What’s more, if this content really is as high quality – and in the long term potentially exclusive or streamed live – this will encourage more people to share it and thus drive traffic even further; a solution to monetising peer-to-peer sharing (in the friends sense, not the technological sense). So is Vevo the saviour of the entertainment industry? Initial reaction has been very positive and it will be interesting to see how it rolls out in the States before hitting the UK sometime next year. Fingers crossed.


from @WillOConnor

UK Tech-Wunderkind and R’n’B fanatic Lucy Davies is out and about on a much needed slice of vacation at the moment. Rather than continue my nomadic, deskless journey around the hotdesks of London, she kindly agreed to let me use her seat for the week.

Thanks Luc! However, It seems use of her desk comes with some particularly draconian rules. Lucy exhibits a near-fanatical level of control over her stationary items, especially her stapler – woe-betide the hapless soul who borrows it for more than a minute. Take it out of the fault-line (the "Circle of Trust") around her desk and you’ll provoke a Hezbollah-style reaction (she swear’s like a docker!)

First thing today, I was greeted with this (rather aggressive) missive…

Will. If my stapler goes missing, I’m going to hunt you down!!!


Punchy! Nothing else. No kindly message of good-will. just unchecked aggression. Ordinarily I wouldn’t really care about such office chattels, and I’ve no real interest in removing items from her desk, but this seems a touch strong, don’t you think? Threats of personal violence?!

Well. If Luc is having a holiday, then so should Stapler. We have a busy week, with a number of activities planned (both work and extra-curricular), so we’re going to make sure that Stapler has a goooood time: 

Where to begin? Without Lucy’s dominant, controlling presence, Stapler should feel free to have a bit of a look around the office…meet some people…maybe have a good time!


Getting a little above its station there… Mr Brain’s office is sacred ground. Maybe best to get out fast; swing by corp and find something to do…

Busy times in corporate. But I’m sure Lucy would never allow such a flagrant breach of staple etiquette! Attaching a chocolate-cornflake treat to some industrial cardboard will surely damage the stapler’s delicate mechanics… but sometimes you’ve just got to look at yourself and say "When in Rome…" There was an Xbox party Monday night for the Facebook, Twitter & LastFM launch. A chance to meet Taio Cruz and Paloma Faith *gasp*. A quick toilet stop, and on to the soiree. We’ll all check in later. TTFN….


***UPDATE – TUESDAY 17th***** Crikey. Busy night so early in the week! Xbox launched its Twitter, Facebook AND LastFM partnerships last night with a glam shindig in Mayfair. Stapler DID NOT GO MISSING, Lucy! It merely enjoyed an evening out with some fun people… Geri and Kat from the JCPR showed stapler around the venue, MusicRoomSpaceEvents


Then the entertainment came out… Paloma Faith tottered on-stage and warbled her choon, Stone Cold Sober. Then Taio Cruz wandered out. We were expecting similar things, but far from squeaking and quacking about *holding hands with the laydeez* and getting crunk in the club, he and Faith did a duet:

Unfortunately, they disappeared off lickety-spit after the gig and stapler didn’t get a chance to meet and greet. Faith headed off in the direction of the nearest seedy bar, Cruz held his mum’s hand while he crossed the road and bimbled off to get a McFlurry and the tube home… Stapler stayed on and met MC for the night, comedian and up-n-coming face, Jeff Leach. Leach stapled his nipple. Such exciting, unconventional times for a lowly desk item…


Whatever next? Well, tonight it’s off to a secret Bebo and Samsung Gig with the Boxer Rebellion. Let’s see if we can get on-stage… ***UPDATE, WEDNESDAY 18th*** More client fun-times tonight with Samsung at the Samsung & Bebo Nights at the Gibson Rooms in Noho. Went to see the Boxer Rebellion


Stapler hung-out with Dave Grohl for a bit…


… Danced to this…



…But best of all, managed to meet the band. How would Lucy feel about the bear-like guitarist touching up her stapler?! It’s simply not regulation!


Stapler’s game is SOOOOO 2010! Dont’ hate!


As we head towards the end of one decade, and into the start of another, people naturally begin to look back and decipher the decade – what was it all about, how did we behave, what were the main trends – with a view of predicting what tomorrow holds for us. I’m no different and have been having a little think.

People have talked about “information overload” since I can remember – every single planning meeting I’d have with software companies would, in some degree, touch on this topic. With the convergence of the internet and mobile platforms and the commoditisation of computing hardware, more and more people are creating, sharing and digesting content. Many people see this as fantastic; the internet has empowered people to discover, learn and educate – are we becoming more intelligent and informed? Some have talked about a digital divide, the gap between the have and the have-nots is widening as a result of this access (of lack of) to the internet.

I agree, to a degree. But have also been mulling over a theory for a little while now – and using the analogy of food, feel we’re in danger of creating a bubble of nothing that could hold back and stifle our intellectual development led by our fascination for all things celebrity. Are we, as a result, entering an ‘Infobesity’ epidemic – getting fat on information with no nutritional value?

Allow me to explain, using the analogy of the obesity epidemic sweeping the developed nations today. Economic stability and international relations had, since post-War era led to a society in the developed world of abundance– food, and choice of food, became abundantly available and affordable to most sections of society. Food choice was no-longer the right of the upper-classes alone. However, human nature it seems has a sadist streak, a want to self destruct, with food it’s the weakness for the sugary, fatty and convenience of fast foods – a penchant for the stuff that isn’t that good for us. This isn’t I appreciate the case for everyone, but you could argue it is the case for the masses – just look at the obesity stats for US and UK. When given a choice, people will generally chose the stuff that isn’t that good for them – especially if these are made extremely convenient to consume and affordable.

Now, perhaps a bit of a stretch but I see our internet usage and information consumption as being very similar. The internet is now almost ubiquitous in the developed world, broadband prices are falling and computing power is increasing but decreasing in price. People are now given the convenience of access and almost unrestricted choice/information. But, much like we’ve seen happen with food – people, when given this choice and convenience tend to lean towards the sugary, fatty content – pornography and celebrity. Are people becoming more intelligent because of the internet? I really not sure they are – maybe more informed, but more informed about what?

One of the most worrying trends during this decade has been rise of the celebrity, and something that was mentioned in the recent edition of Intelligent Life, celempathy. The notion that celebrity worship has gone beyond idolism to a need to understand, belong and importantly relate to celebrities. The media continually bombard us with stories of where they’ve been, who they’ve been seen with. Indeed Heat magazine launched at the very end of the last decade and has grown in popularity through the noughties. Perez Hilton is one of the most widely ready websites in the world.

But it goes even further than this, the last ten years has been the age where by society felt that they were truly able to create its own celebrities – the success of X Factor, Pop Idol, Big Brother (although people are getting bored of this format), where real people that the average person could relate to would then be shaped into the celebrity everyone secretly aspires to. The people were able to choose, the people were given the power to create celebrity.

So why am I worried about the rise of celebrity and celempathy – well it seems the internet, for the younger generation, is about gaming, talking and celebrity – and when talking it’s largely about celebrity. All ten of the most watched viral videos of all time as announced last month featured celebrities (Kylie and Ronaldo being the two most watched if you’re interested).

The amount of content that’s created and consumed around celebrity is, from my basic research increasing at a rate way beyond any other genre (other than porn maybe – although as Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson realised a combination of celebrity and porn can be pretty powerful). This is what I mean by infobesity – people are getting fat on the overly sugary, fatty empty content that is celebrity – we’re overloading on information as it is and most of it is vacuous celebrity nothing.

I know this is a bit of a rant, and opinionated and is definitely only one-side of the story ( I was hoping to generate some debate) – not everyone is as vacuous as I make out. But I don’t see myself as being a shallow person – but have I used the internet to learn a new language, to discover why the Aztecs disappeared, to access great works of literature and to genuinely better myself (beyond what we do for a living)? The answers no.

So I’m worried that this fascination for celebrity/celempathy will continue to grow and be more powerful – and the developing world, much like it has a problem with food will have a problem with content. An age of Infobesity is dawning.

Hell, Arnold Swazzengar is the governor of California, Boris Johnson the mayor or London; what next Katie Price as Prime Minister?

Sure this means the celebrity will become even more powerful in the marketing process, but it’s a bit depressing as well. Will historians in 200 years look back and laugh at how stupid the human race became because of its fascination with the hot-air that is celebrity. I fear it might.


AKQA showed this at a meeting on Tuesday, talking about collaboration and the power of crowd-sourced creativity – all the usual stuff we always bang on about.

But this is incredible. It’s a music video from a fairly sketchy band called Sour. They got their fans to work together to make a video for their new song. It looks like it must’ve been the most monumental ball-ache of an edit, but the end result is truly brilliant.


There was a moment when the new intake of girls at school stopped being brace-muzzled, awkward creatures in baggy flares and neon tops, with their eyes ringed in zingy, badly applied electric blue mascara. It coincided with the moment when Topshop became a fashionable, on-trend outlet; taking looks straight off the catwalk and onto the average person in the street, placing everyone suddenly within reach of style.

The girls became leggy, blonde and polished, arriving with their thirteen-year-old fashion senses already honed and with wardrobes to match. Topshop stopped being a place where you could buy a vest, jumper or T-shirt in every colour of the rainbow, and became a chain of fashion palaces, complete with ‘shoe lounges’, nail bars and shiny new shop fronts.

Did ex-director Jane Shepherdson’s phenomenal rebranding exercise (which undoubtedly changed the face of the British high street) rebrand the consumers themselves, or was it just a case of the right strategy at the right time?

One thing is certain, British teenagers are now rated the most fashion-obsessed in the world:

‘The advertising agency JWT recently asked young people in the UK, America, Brazil, Canada and Australia which items they would never cut back on, no matter how tight their finances. Brits ranked “buying new clothes” higher than any other nation in the poll.’

This isn’t in traditionally chic France or in sun-kissed Hollywood. This is in Britain, never internationally renowned for the beauty of its people or their style sense. But that’s all changed.

It is no coincidence that in the past decade, the rise of a youth culture fixated by fashion and celebrity has been so marked in Britain. Teen idol Emma Watson’s decision to head Stateside for university to be ‘more anonymous’ says a lot about the kind of world Brits are growing up in.

This trend of fashion-obsessed teenagers doesn’t mean they’re all running around in designer labels, flashing Louboutin soles. The astronomical growth of sites like (As Seen on Screen) demonstrates the fact that everyone now wants access to celebrity wardrobes, high fashion, runway styles and the associated glamour, all in a purse-friendly, disposable form. Yes, the odd birthday presents might be iPhones and Marc Jacobs bags, but the average purchases of these teenagers are under £40 and happening every week.

Going back to the discussion last month about Madonna and Jimmy Choo taking to the High Street, perhaps this is the most financially savvy move brands can make. By jumping onto the Topshop/ASOS bandwagon of affordable yet aspirational trends that teens can buy into week in, week out, big brands can sell to the most important emergent demographic; one that has a large disposable income, but is also surprisingly discerning.

Sarah Ventress – @sarahventress

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