L’Oreal Modifies Websites to Clarify That Content May Be Advertising

Advertising Law

Based on its monitoring program, the National Advertising Division (NAD) raised concerns that three L’Oréal websites—Makeup.com, Skincare.com and Hair.com—failed to sufficiently disclose L’Oréal’s connection with the websites in a clear and conspicuous manner, in order to ensure that consumers who access the websites would reasonably understand that these are L’Oréal-sponsored websites and that articles featuring reviews of various skin-care and makeup products were advertisements for L’Oréal products because they were created by or on behalf of L’Oréal. The references to L’Oréal generally appeared at the bottom of the webpages, which the NAD stated was too far from the website logos and content.

In its decision, the NAD stated that consumers should easily understand whether the content they are viewing is an advertisement or editorial content. The NAD relies on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements.

The NAD was concerned that the websites looked like publishers’ sites providing general information on how to improve one’s hair and skin and makeup application with various articles, while also selling products to further those goals. The NAD stated that consumers who read articles recommending products on these websites might weigh the recommendations differently if they were aware that the content was written by or on behalf of L’Oréal. The websites did not ensure that, at first glance, consumers could perceive that the articles featuring reviews of the products were, in fact, advertisements for L’Oréal products.

L’Oréal immediately responded to the NAD’s inquiry and explained that the full L’Oréal branding traditionally appeared at the top of each webpage, integrated with the website name and logo, but that during revisions of the websites the full disclosure was inadvertently dropped on some pages. L’Oréal added “By L’Oréal” directly below the Makeup.com and Skincare.com logos, and “Powered by L’Oréal” directly below Hair.com. The NAD determined that these were clear and conspicuous and informed consumers of L’Oréal’s ownership of the websites such that they understand that the content of the websites may be advertising.

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