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Ads branded ‘misleading’ as L’Oreal’s lumbered with conditional fine
By Andrew McDougall, 02-Dec-2010

A court ruled yesterday that L’Oreal Sweden had breached marketing regulations by claiming its face creams can reduce and remove wrinkles in ‘misleading’ advertisements.

The Swedish Market Court (Marknadsdomstolen) ruled in favour of Sweden’sconsumer ombudsman (KO) who had challenged the cosmetics firm to provide proof of its claims.

The Court stated L’Oreal has been prohibited to use any claims regarding skin fibres and relating to wrinkle reduction on a number of its anti-ageing products.

Gabriella Fenger-Krog, lawyer for KO, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com that if these claims are used in future advertising campaigns charges will be made.

Conditional fine on future claims
Fenger-Krog explained L’Oreal will be charged if they use words or pictures that in any way imply the wrinkle reduction claims.

The conditional fine stands at 1m kronor (€109,115) if L’Oreal Sweden fails to abide by the ruling, and it was also ordered to pay 226,400 kronor (€24,710) in KO’s legal costs.

The cosmetics giant did provide evidence in court to support the claims made in its ‘?Vichy Liftactiv Pro’ and ‘Lancome High Resolution’ adverts, however Filippa Nyberg MD, dermatologist in Stockholm, Uppland and Sodemanland, hired by KO, testified that this did not prove the claims, a verdict favoured by the court.

“The verdict cannot be appealed against because it is the ruling of the highest market court in Sweden,” Gabriella Fenger-Krog

Unsubstantiated claims
KO took L’Oreal Sweden to court a year ago over claims made in the face cream adverts that it said L’Oreal could not substantiate.

The Lancome adverts claimed the product can smooth out wrinkles by up to 70 per cent, and Vichy was claimed to reduce wrinkles by up to 43 per cent, declarations which KO argued were not backed up by scientific evidence.

KO charged that L'Oréal marketed its products in a misleading and exaggerated way. The verdict handed down by the court sided with KO and deemed the company's advertising ‘misleading’.

"The verdict is a great success and a guiding principle for all the companies who market beauty creams. It is now clearer that you cannot say whatever you want in word or image in advertising," said Agnes Broberg, deputy KO.