Charter and Guiding Principles on Responsible Advertising and Marketing Communications
Providing an additional level of consumer protection and enhancing trust through promoting responsible advertising and marketing communications
While the rapid evolution of digital technology provided numerous new opportunities for advertising and marketing communications, protecting consumers against misleading information by means of responsible practices has now become more important than ever.
Following the latest changes in societal demands, trends, and fashions, Cosmetics Europe has proactively worked with its members to update its Charter and Guiding Principles on Responsible Marketing Communications.
The first version of the Charter was adopted in 2012. It built on Cosmetics Europe’s long-term proactive work to promote best practice in cosmetics advertising undertaken in response to consumer concerns about potential adverse impacts that cosmetics advertising could have on individuals, as well as on society as a whole.
As with the initial Charter, the updated version is largely inspired by the broader self-regulatory framework for advertising and marketing communications promoted by the Internal Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA). Its major purpose is to complement the already comprehensive regulatory framework, in order to further protect consumers from misleading claims and advertising.
An updated Charter
The initial version of the Cosmetics Europe’s Charter and Guiding Principles on Responsible Marketing Communications was developed at the same time as the European Commission was drafting the Common Criteria Regulation (CCR).
While principles such as honesty, truthfulness, claim substantiation, informed choice – have been included in the Common Criteria Regulation , having thus become legal requirements, the updated version of the Charter and Guiding Principles on Responsible Marketing Communications focuses rather on self-regulatory aspects than maintain aspects which are now mere compliance with the law. It also attempts to better reflect the challenges of today’s highly digitalized world.
While underlining the cosmetics industry’s commitment towards responsible advertising and marketing communications which respect the human being, body image and human dignity, the updated Charter and Guiding Principles specifically focus on the following areas:
1. The evolution of the digital environment / influencer marketing
In response to the significant evolution of the digital environment (including the use of artificial intelligence) and technologically-enhanced advertising practices, as well as the emergence of new societal trends in the use of social networks and media for advertising, the Charter re-emphasizes the importance of image honesty. For instance, it specifically underlines the need to make sure that digital techniques used do not alter images of models such that their body shapes or features become unrealistic and misleading regarding the performance achievable by the product. The advertiser should also ensure that the illustration of a performance of an advertised product is not misleading. Additionally, the Charter provides a set of new guidelines for influencer marketing, calling for practices that help consumers distinguish between genuine, unbiased opinions shared by influencers and the ones that are marketing.
2. Advertising to vulnerable populations / children and teens
The European cosmetics industry commits to promoting responsible advertising and marketing communications towards vulnerable consumers, including children and teens, which treat them with care and dignity. Advertising on social media platforms, or via smartphone applications and games that children or teens may be attracted to or targeted by, should be considered very carefully in terms of the effects it may have on them.
3. Promotion of environmental benefits of products
Marketing communications should be so framed as to empower consumers to make sustainable choices. To achieve that, the Charter pays specific attention to a series of aspects concerning the general presentation of a product (e.g. visuals, colours), the use of images, symbols and logos, as well as the accuracy, relevance, clarity and substantiation of the environmental claims.
The combination of regulatory and self-regulatory measures governing the marketing communications of cosmetic products provides for a comprehensive framework, which not only protects consumers, but allows for fair competition between companies and their growth through innovation.