The French campaign group SOS Racisme brought a case against L'Oréal already back in 2000 saying they excluded non-white women from promoting its shampoo, and the ruling is just in: Guilty. The Garnier division of the beauty empire, along with a recruitment agency it employed, were fined €30,000 each after they recruited women on the basis of race. A senior figure at the agency given a three-month suspended prison sentence.
L'Oréal advertised for young women to hand out samples and discuss hairstyling with shoppers in July 2000, and a fax detailing the profile of hostesses sought by L'Oréal stipulated women should be 18 to 22, size 38-42 and "BBR", the initials for bleu, blanc, rouge, the colours of the French flag. This is the first time a major company has been found guilty of systematic race discrimination in France. This is code for "white" the prosecuters argued.
Samuel Thomas of SOS Racisme told the Guardian: "This ruling is an enormous victory for everyone currently suffering race discrimination in France. It shows that economic interests cannot be put before the law and morality. Companies here clearly thought that racism was in their financial interest."
He said consumers of L'Oréal products in the UK and the US would be horrified to learn about the racial discrimination.
L'Oréal owns brands ranging from Lancôme to the Body Shop, which it bought last year. It said yesterday it would immediately appeal against the decision, which it found "incomprehensible".
"We believe that diversity and difference are a source of richness and we do not tolerate any form of racism or discrimination," the statement said.
The company was hoping for an altogether different type of publicity in France this weekend when it created a special lipstick for the Paris wedding of Desperate Housewives' star Eva Longoria to the French basketball player Tony Parker.
Kinda related, a Ironic sans states the obvious when he sees this head&shoulders flaky Advert. We say such silly things in ads.