I have never had a problem with beauty advertising. I like pretty pictures. Yes, they are retouched and yes, they sell a piece of a dream. But since a couple of years some of them seem to cross a line between being inspirational and right out campy!
At the very moment when millions of makeup fans are flocking to amateur-run blogs and viewing you-tube tutorials done in bathrooms and living rooms (can’t get more realistic than that, can it?), many advertising pages in magazines look so absurdly unrealistic they feel out of sync with their times.
Consider the current mascara ads as an example. Why do so many of them feature inches-long lashes that couldn’t possibly be created with the help of mascara alone? It’s hard to believe women would aspire to lashes that evoke sci-fi spiders rather than the promise of a beautiful eye. One version features full rows of lashes that are so obviously fake (either because they actually come from a box or are blatantly photo-shopped) that it’s virtually impossible to feel a connection with the image. Do cosmetic brands choose to underestimate their customers or have they lost the plot?
Don’t they know consumers today are more aware, educated and with-it than ever before?
With the growing presence of fashion and beauty driven television shows and online, women are better educated about makeup than ever before.
They have access to easy-to-use cosmetics that look great, an excellent offering of colors for various skin tones, good quality makeup, professional grade tools at low price points and extensive information accessible to all.
They are becoming experts in their own right.
Yet, it seems that a number of makeup advertisers haven’t caught on how their audience has evolved and become very sophisticated. By producing advertising that is excessively unrealistic, they underestimate their consumer.
The response, as can be seen in the blogosphere, is: Do they think we’re stupid?
In order to distinguish themselves in a makeup landscape where sameness has become the norm, companies focus exclusively on the benefits of a product and create products that rely on gimmicks: skin products lasting 24 hours… lashes plumped into perfect rows…lip glosses on a 16-hour schedule…applicators that roll-on, oscillate or vibrate. Are we talking household appliances or makeup?
These manufacturers might just be missing a very important point: the emotional connection. How does this product make a woman feel: feminine, sexy, confident or powerful? How pleasant is the gesture of applying it? How satisfying is the “transformation” taking place in the mirror? How positive is the connection between her and the reflection she sees? Could this mean that reapplying a product is actually a pleasure rather than a chore – a way for a woman to check in with her feminine self during the day? A well deserved little “me”-moment?
Couldn’t applying a lipstick trigger a sense of celebrating her femininity, boost her confidence and make her feel invincible?
Perhaps it’s time to shift the approach towards the real woman out there.
Imagine if the quest was no longer for an unreachable, yes, unreachable ideal of perfection but for the gratification of making herself looking darn good and enjoying every minute of it!