Skincare brand Proactive+ has been slapped down by the ad watchdog for an ad starring model and actress Jorgie Porter which suggested children with acne were more likely to be bullied or ridiculed at school.
During the ad, Porter said: “There was a time at school in the corridor once when a young lad shouted out to me ‘Oi spotty’.” At that moment, a photo of her aged 16 was shown. She had spots all over her face.
She continued: “I was so gutted. When you look in the mirror, all you see is how bad your skin is. It’s so frustrating, and what can you do about it? It’s hard to cover up. You can’t just stick a hat on. It’s your face. When nothing works, you’re so sad and you just think ‘well that’s me now forever’.”
Porter then went on to say how Proactiv+ had “changed everything”, and that these days she gets “so many compliments” about how good her skin is, adding that “when you find something that works, it’s a bit of a miracle”.
But four people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority and said they believed the ad implied that children were likely to be “ridiculed or bullied if they had bad skin” and did not use the product. They were particularly concerned that the ad had aired on children’s TV channels.
In its defence, Proactiv Skin Health said the actress had used “her own words” in the ad and was “not given a script” and was “not asked to act in a particular way, or convey any particular emotion”.
Meanwhile, TV ad clearing house Clearcast insisted that neither the ad nor the product were likely to appeal to children, and therefore gave it the thumbs up.
However, this carried little truck with the ASA, which ruled that the ad created a direct link between an incidence of bullying in Porter’s childhood as a result of her bad skin and a product she said had made her skin clearer.
Concluding that it did imply that children who had bad skin and did not use the product were likely to be bullied or ridiculed, the watchdog banned the ad from appearing around programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children.
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