Urban Decay’s “Razor Sharp” Ad

Urban Decay, a make-up company I adore and have written about many times in positive terms, produced this ad [click to enlarge]:

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Rightly called out for going over the edge of their self-description as a brand that sells “make-up with an edge,” UD Tweeted a baloney explanation about how they always use swatches on the arm.

I’m not buying it. Someone being paid good money decided to pair a single female arm in corpse-hued nail polish with razor cuts reminiscent of self-harming next to the product and approved that copy. These decisions are not arbitrary: advertising costs a lot of money and needs to generate a lot of money. It could have been handled differently.  Take a look at how, because every single one of the images I will share come from UD’s own Instagram account. which someone is also being paid to manage.

They could have used a neutral background with no human arm, as they did in these two cases:

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They could have shown several arms in relaxed or even fun hand formations. They’ve done it before:

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They could have shown the wrist only: an image much less evocative of cutting one’s wrists. They could have shown an open hand.

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They could have swatched the colors farther apart and gone way down the arm as they did here. In fact, the swatches would have been easier to see that way.

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They could have shown their product on actual eyes. They don’t always use the swatch design in their promos. I know. I’m a super loyal customer.

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The image they did use is a lone female’s arm in a pose that is nothing but evocative of wrist-cutting.  The position of the hand, the length and placement of the swatches  — it’s wrist-cutting. The coy, “edgy” copy for the ad confirms it.

It’s wrong, and Urban Decay should stop explaining and start apologizing.

As I said, I’m not buying their apology. As to whether I’ll be buying their make-up again, that remains to be seen.

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