Ad watchdog bans L’Oreal Fructis ad because the tagline F ‘n’ L sounds like swearing

L’Oréal has been forced to pull an ad for its Fructis Full and Luscious’ product because its tagline ‘F ‘n’ L’ sounds too much like someone saying ‘Effin hell’.

banned L'oreal f 'n' l adThe campaign, created by Publicis Mojo, features a woman walking through an office environment with her hair billowing and creating a windstorm in her wake. At the end of the ad a colleague exclaims “F ‘n’ L!” while a voiceover says “Introducing new Garnier Fructis Full and Luscious”.

Complaints to the Ad Standards Board against the ad argue the ‘F ‘n’ L’ abbreviation implies “bad language” with one complainant saying: “It is obviously intended to sound like a swear word and I do not want my young children to overhear the ad and repeat it.”

L’Oréal defended the ad saying it was intended “to convey a sense of energy, youthful irreverence and fun” but not be “inappropriate, offensive or lack sensitivity,” the company told the Ad Standards Board.

The brand said the use of the abbreviation was to express shock at the improved look of someone’s hair after using the product, arguing in the Australian vernacular ‘Effin’ hell’ is an “innocuous expression”.

“The use of F’n’L is clearly a play on words, such as WTF or LMFAO – it is unequivocally distinguishable from the ‘f’ word and is used in a light hearted, humorous way in line with the overall context of the Advertisement and its purpose as stated above,” L’Oréal said.

The company added they planned to continue to use the ad until mid-July and potentially later in the year.

In considering the ad, the ASB board noted most members of the community would find the phrase “effing hell” to be a reference to “fucking hell” – language it said should not be used around children – and upheld the complaint.

In response to the ruling L’Oréal said it would no longer use the PG-rated ads.

Miranda Ward


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.