Benefit Cosmetics: Lazy and Degrading Advertising?

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Time and time again we see the same narrative being relayed across different media forms and advertising. An ‘ugly girl’ (an ordinary girl with little to no makeup and less than perfect eyesight) turns into a gorgeous goddess just by applying a bit of mascara. It’s ridiculous but it’s reality… and Benefit, a popular cosmetics company, is the most recent to join this very long bandwagon.

I hope, that there will come a day in the future where a product can be sold successfully without the use of sexism, body shaming, sexual objectification, racism or any other obviously politically incorrect or just downright immoral ideology. But sadly this is not yet the case. You can almost imagine the CEOs and marketing directors at these big brands and companies, on a rainy Friday afternoon sitting in their big board meeting room wracking their brains on how best to sell their latest product; time is ticking on, so they decide to dust off that ‘olden but golden’ pitch of the ugly duckling.

In the first of these adverts, Benefit is promoting their makeup primer ‘The Porefessional’ which claims to minimise the look of pores and fine lines. Yet in the before and after pictures used to advertise the product, the only difference between the two is that the first is wearing glasses and the second has some lip gloss and blush on. Neither of which have to do with pores or fine lines. This is a classic example, in my opinion, of lazy advertising techniques and yet another nail in the coffin to lower women’s self-esteem and body confidence. Seeing an image of a woman who perhaps looks remarkably similar to you or other women that you know with the word “yuck” plastered over it is not exactly what I’d call uplifting.

The second advert is simply an image of a woman’s eye with no makeup applied, again with the word ‘yuck’ imposed onto it, and the second image of the same eye with Benefit’s latest eyeliner applied, with the word “wow!” I don’t quite know what this ‘wow’ is supposed to imply, but for me, it perfectly sums up my disbelief at the stupidity of this advert. How can a black sharpie-like line drawn onto someone’s eyelid, make them go from ‘yuck’ to ‘wow’. The answer? It doesn’t. But what it does do is attempt to make women believe that if they buy Benefit’s product, then no-one will think of them as a disgusting ogre.

As much as I love Benefit’s products, sloppy advertising techniques like this just need to stop. It doesn’t make me want to buy it more, in fact, it makes me want to buy it less. All it does is damage the brand’s reputation and contribute to lowering the confidence of beautiful women.

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BA English Student and Features Editor 2016-17

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