Education & Family

L'Oreal agrees to change 'bad at maths' boast advert

Helen Mirren Image copyright other
Image caption Helen Mirren's campaign for L'Oreal celebrated ageing

Beauty giant L'Oreal Paris is to change an advert that included a throwaway boast about not being good at maths after a numeracy charity's challenge.

Recent L'Oreal Paris adverts featured British actress Dame Helen Mirren saying: "Age is just a number. And maths was never my thing."

National Numeracy tweeted its distaste that the advertising appeared to boast about poor maths skills.

L'Oreal Paris thanked the charity and pledged to change it "right away".

'Negative attitudes'

National Numeracy chief executive Mike Ellicock said: "Throwaway remarks about being 'no good at maths' are so easy to make and so damaging in the way they normalise negative attitudes.

"It's unusual for a company to recognise and remedy their error in the way that L'Oreal have, so we really appreciate their response.

"We know that women and girls often have particularly low levels of confidence - and particularly high levels of anxiety - about maths. So it's especially important that advertising directed at them doesn't perpetuate the myth that women can't do maths."

L'Oreal Paris replied to National Numeracy by Twitter saying: "Thanks for raising this, we hadn't meant it to be interpreted this way. We're changing it right away and you'll see new ads soon."

National Numeracy was established in 2012 with the aim of improving everyday maths skills among adults and children in the UK - and changing negative attitudes to maths.

L'Oreal Paris UK general manager Elen Macaskil said the comment was intended as a playful reference to ageing and was never meant to be interpreted as negative towards maths.

She added: "L'Oreal is a strong advocate of women in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] through our For Women In Science programme and as someone who did double maths A-level I fully support the manifesto for a numerate UK. We listen to our consumers and value their feedback which is why we took the decision to change our communication."

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