Urban Decay, a make-up company I adore and have written about many times in positive terms, produced this ad [click to enlarge]:
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:
They could have shown several arms in relaxed or even fun hand formations. They’ve done it before:
They could have shown the wrist only: an image much less evocative of cutting one’s wrists. They could have shown an open hand.
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.
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.
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.