One of the key and most common issue I have with clients, is their persistent need for speed when it comes to cosmetic claims. In fact many of them just don’t get it. I even have clients who have never even read the Cosmetics Directive - Arghh!

As to speeding, those with cars have no doubt put their foot down on the autobahns or motorways and hoped that the shiny BMW behind them wasn’t the police, and that the overhead cameras were for purposes other than speeding. Despite traffic laws it happens all the time — it is human nature.

What does this have to do with cosmetics? In the driving seat, sadly it is still marketing, copy writers and commercial teams, with R&D, Regulatory Affairs and Legal teams attempting back-seat driving! An uncomfortable scenario indeed especially since I am always sick in the back of a car. When it comes to cosmetic claims, Marketing will always want what they want and dig their heels in most of they time. Regulatory Affairs are seen as party-poopers rather than those kindly folks who are there to keep everyones butts out of the fire. R&D is expected to deliver.

However let’s look at it this way — you have a bunch of cars speeding on the motorway — they represent those brands who do not comply with the claims legislation — they have failed to realise that non-compliance with just one of the six claims criteria means they are non-complaint with ALL of them. Go-faster stripes on an old banger at the back of the speeding mass offers no help. Unknowingly, or lack of common sense, makes the guilty striped brand even more visible. Furthermore, all the speeding brands think that because everyone else is doing it, they can do so and they hide amongst those around them.

On the same motorway, there are only so many active police cars and the speed cameras may or may not be working. There is an excitement of risk in the air. Watching all of this are witnesses — those cars who are being overtaken, twitching curtains in windows, etc. Some of the speeders (brands) get caught, blue flashing lights and everyone slows down. Some slip into a ‘slower’ lane and do the right thing by sorting out their non-compliance. Others just drive faster.

Then sadly there is a horrific crash, people are badly hurt — those ahead of the accident get away (at least for now), those behind are forced to slow down, and even may get inspected, their paperwork, the boot/trunk of the car, etc. Way behind is the go-faster-stripped banger — what does it do?

There are the 'witnesses' — some urged on by journalists and regulatory authorities — those demanding full justice, those who just shrug their shoulders, and those who choose to turn a blind eye. In the courts or the complaints of advertising standards, the speeders are named and shamed. Some speeders just get a caution, others have their licences revoked, others end up in prison.

In an ideal world all of these cars should travel at the right speed, but…where does your brand and its claims fit into all this — are you a speeder, jungle-hider, or go-faster-stripped banger. Either way, you will get found out, the consumer is at your motorway exit junction waiting for you with a hand-held speed catcher!

Dedicated to Adrian Mellor MRSC (BTI Marketing Ltd) for his inspiration on this ‘need for speed’.

ⒸCallaghan Consulting International