Nars Cosmetics has long flirted with sexy advertising – its best-selling blush shade is called Orgasm – but a new lipstick ad has pushed the boundaries of good taste too far, according to some.
On Sunday the French make-up company shared a video on its Instagram account, showcasing its new Morocco lipstick as it melts in reverse from a rippled phallic shape to its original bullet form.
“When the nudes keep you up all night,” said the caption for the lipstick, which joins Nars products including Climax mascara and Sex Machine lip pencil.
The “sexually explicit” clip, watched nearly a million times in its first 48 hours, created immediate controversy.
Outspoken model Chrissy Teigen led the chorus of supporters, posting, “Honestly in love with this colour and now I must have it to soften my boner.”
“Promote whoever came up with this idea,” was one call.
“I never thought I’d get turned on by lipstick,” said another.
And “Nars, y’all are saucy! I like it.”
But others felt the make-up company had crossed a line from cheeky and irreverent into “inappropriate” and creepy.
“Wow this is so wrong. We do love the sexual narrative as long as it’s clean. You went overboard from cool to trash real quick,” noted one user.
“I can’t wait till a time when no part of a woman’s body is associated with male pleasure. Nars, you are literally part of the problem.”
Wrote one affronted social media user: “This makes me want to buy one, said no one ever. Gross.”
Asked another, “Is lipstick applied to some other part of the body now?”
Posted a third, “Wow. Remind me NOT to purchase anything Nars sells.
This is too far. Teenage girls make most make-up purchases. I wouldn’t want my kid thinking this ad was cool.”
It went on.
“I scrolled past this on Twitter and my boyfriend asked if I was looking at nudes,” wrote a Nars fan on Instagram.
“Clearly, they are not targeting the lipstick lesbian market,” wrote another.
Nars did not respond to multiple requests from media outlets for comment on its controversial campaign.
In 2017, the brand’s make-up artist creator François Nars told People he is constantly thinking of new names for his products to give them an identity.
“By calling it a very specific name, a woman would fall in love with the product even more because it has more personality,” Nars said.
“I try to find intelligent names that really mean something. It can be a country, it can be a sensation, an emotion, movie, whatever, but something that would really click.”
The lipstick isn’t the first beauty product to be denounced as having an ugly side.
In 2007, a L’Oreal hair dye ad was banned for making Beyonce’s skin lighter and an ad for Imedeen skin supplement showing half-smiling Singaporean actor Zoe Tay lying down was canned for its racy copy: “My secret to beautiful skin: I swallow.”
A Natalie Portman ad for Dior mascara was criticised because of the unlikely lash length shown and Julia Roberts’ eerily smooth face in a Lancome ad was panned as over-photoshopped.