Archive for July, 2011

L’Oréal Ads Banned In UKUK advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has just banned ads by L’Oréal featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington.

The Complaint

The ads for Lancôme and Maybelline, companies owned by L’Oréal, were accused of having images that had been manipulated to an extent beyond which could be reasonably held up as achievable results obtained using the products they were advertising.

MP Jo Swinson, who has long fought against the overuse of post-production techniques, such as airbrushing, in advertising, made the complaint against L’Oréal and has said “we should have some honesty in advertising and that’s exactly what the ASA is there to do. I’m delighted they’ve upheld these complaints.”

L’Oréal has admitted both images were retouched, but has denied that the ads were misleading. In an attempt to have the complaint overruled L’Oréal supplied pictures of both Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington on the red carpet, showing that they are both naturally beautiful women. L’Oréal lost out against the complaint because it is a requirement that companies be able to show exactly how much retouching has been done to an image, which L’Oréal did not do, saying that it was against their contracts to release pre-production images.

Not The First Time

This is not the first time the ASA has found against the beauty industry.

Last November an ad featuring Georgia May Jagger, advertising mascara for Rimmel London, was banned due to the use of false eyelashes. In 2009 an image of the model Twiggy, used to advertise an Olay product, was also banned due to excessive airbrushing – Jo Swinson was also involved in this complaint. And in June 2010, L’Oréal was again under scrutiny for a hair care ad featuring Cheryl Cole which prompted complaints from the public, as Cole is well known for having hair extensions. On that particular occasion the ASA did not ban the ad, concluding that it was not misleading, however future runs of the ad included a line advising that Cole was wearing hair extension.

Will The UK Stand Alone?

It is encouraging to see the ASA stepping in and letting advertisers know that the images they use need to be reasonably achievable using the products advertised.

It is not healthy for younger people in particular, to be bombarded with these images, believing them to be accurate, or something they are expected to emmulate.

We have all become a little too found of the retouch buttons on our computers in this digital age and as Jo Swinson has said, we need to “get back to reality”.

Hopefully the UK will not remain alone in this fight against the use of unrealistic imagery, and other countries will step up to the plate as well.

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7 things you should know about google+I recently wrote a post for Bloggertone on whether Google+ is just ‘another’ social network. I discussed some of the great features that Google+ has to offer and I’d like to expand more on that here.

Basically Google+ is attractive for one of the reasons that made Facebook so attractive during the MySpace / Bebo era – it’s really clean visually. The human eye likes whitespace and despite Facebook being relatively clean, Google+ has it beat on that front hands down – plus (so far) there are NO ADs.

1. Circles

One of my favourite features of Google+ is Circles, which allows you to group your contacts, so for example I have a ‘friends’ circle and a ‘marketing people’ circle. You are also able to put contacts in multiple circles, so some people in the ‘marketing’ circle might also be in the ‘friends’ circle.  The circles you create are completely private, so while people you’ve added will receive a notification advising them you have added them to a circle, they won’t know the name of the circle.

Circles do have a limit of 5,000 people per circle, but that’s unlikely to be a problem for most of us any time soon.

2. Sharing

Having contacts divided into groups like this means that now when I post  something I can target exactly who sees it. This is a feature I’ve felt Facebook has been lacking for a long time, and it’s the reason I never connect to anyone in my professional life on Facebook, I drew the line in the sand, and for me Facebook was personal. Now however I’m able to connect with everyone I want and decide who to share each post with.

You can share every post with one, or more, of your circles, or else type in an individual’s name to send them a private message.

As with Facebook, putting @ before a person’s name will turn their name into a hyperlink – but here you can also do it by putting a + before their name (naturally).

Once you’ve posted something you have options to edit it, disable sharing (so others can’t repost it), disable comments or delete it – but currently you can’t change who you’ve shared it with.

3. Real People Only Please

Currently Google+ is for ‘real people’ only with a handful of companies being allowed to set up a business page as part of a beta testing group, both Ford and Mashable News are among those.

4. Other Standout Features

Goolge+ also has hangouts and huddles.

Hangouts are group video chats which up to 10 people can join. This is going to be a very popular feature I believe, and has an advantage over Skype as video chats between more than 2 people is currently a paid feature on Skype.

Huddles are group text chats and are being pushed as a way to organise nights out etc. without having to send 10 individual texts.

I think both of the above will be particular popular with the current school / college set. Although there are rumours that Dell is considering using the hangouts for customer service, so only time will tell how businesses will take advantage of these features.

5. +1

The +1 button when used inside of Google+ acts as a ‘like’ button.

The +1 button when used outside of Google+ on blog entries, news stories etc. acts as a bookmark and will then show up in your +1 tab on your profile. This will allow you to create an aggregated list of content to recommend to those who visit your profile.

6. Search Will Be Affected

The +1 button is everywhere and is being used 2.3 billion times per day. This is essentially making Google more intelligent as people are telling it what content on the web is interesting. Not only that, but now Google will have access to more of your social circle (it doesn’t have access to Facebook) so will return search results based not only on the +1 recommendations but also on your specific social circle.

These better quality links will result in an even higher click through rate for those at the top of the search results.

7. Still Waiting For…

Vanity URLs: Currently Google+ aren’t allowing vanity urls to be set up so currently the urls contain a lot of numbers. There are various ways around this, one being to use http://www.profiles.google.com/xxxx the xxxx being the part before the @gmail.com of your email address – of course this means that everyone will then know your email address. There are also some websites, including www.gplus.to that are offering to create vanity urls for Google+ but unless you know the company I wouldn’t recommend going there. I suspect Google themselves will offer vanity urls before very long.

Verified Accounts: There is talk that Google+ will follow in the footsteps of  Twitter and allow certain well know people to  ‘verify’ their account, thereby indicating that they are who they say they are, and given that ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ already has 3 Google+ profiles, Google will hopefully roll this feature out quickly.

Business Pages: As mentioned these are still in beta testing but hopefully they will be rolled out soon enough as well. If they integrate with other Google products e.g. Maps, Local, Deals etc. they will be powerful pages for business, and as always, the early adopters will have the advantage.

With 13 million people and counting on Google+ they certainly look set to make life uncomfortable for Facebook, as to whether it will be a ‘Facebook killer’, only time will tell.

Let me know what you think of Google+. Please also +1 this post if you liked it and don’t forget to add me to your circles!

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Sitting In The Front Row – An Attitude For LifeWhere Do You Sit?

Have you noticed that people will choose their seats depending on the situation?

In a concert or sporting event who wouldn’t want to be in the front row . . . and yet if we’re talking about a class or conference, more often than not the front row (and usually the 2nd and 3rd rows) are avoided like the plague.

The reason is usually fear. Fear of being in the spotlight, of being called upon to answer a question, of having nowhere to hide.

The back row is ‘safe’, the front row, terrifying for many.

My Experience With The Front Row

Last month I attended the Inbound Marketing Summit in San Francisco. The room was reasonably full when I arrived but the first few rows were completely empty. I chose to sit in the 4th row, about a ¼ of the way from the front. Not the front row, but definitely visible.

I hadn’t attended many conferences and this was my first to attend solo. While I’m reasonably chatty I don’t usually make a habbit of wandering straight up to strangers and striking up a conversaion, but this was a 2 day conference so I would need to talk to some people. My plan was to become active on the twitter hashtag #ims11, get involved in the conversation and then go seek those people out.

Shortly before our first break I noticed a woman, Jackie Shelley, tweeting about how all the fabulous people were in the front row, I tweeted back to see if the 4th row counted, Jackie agreed that I could be fabulous in the 4th row although Brandon Yanofsky was informed point blank that the back row was no good! However post lunch I had been recruited to the ‘fabulous front row’ to join both Jackie and Lois Ardito, and then Brandon joined us a few sessions later.

Sitting in the front row for the conference was great for a lot of reasons. Not only is it easier to see the slides and give each session your full attention (without the distractions of ‘people watching’) but I met some great people!

Life After The Front Row

One month later and Jackie, Lois, Brandon and myself are all still in contact and have even started our own podcast, discussing all things marketing, business and life related.

By our second podcast Jackie had a new business venture, her own company, appropriately called, Front Row Antics!

Today was our fourth podcast and Lois mentioned that she now uses the idea of the ‘front row’ as a positive mentality, deciding that today will be a ‘front row day’, meaning all engines are firing and the day will be met head on. I absolutely love this idea and will try to make most days front row days!

So there you have it, sitting in the front row resulted in friendship, a podcast, a new business and a new mentality. Remember that the next time you have to choose your seat…!


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