'Skincare' brand Dove's latest campaign from Canada takes a swing at those 'directly responsible' for retouching photos in ad campaigns, magazines and newspapers. The hypocrisy of this is somewhere between laughable and shout-at-your-monitor aggravating.
In this viral ad by Oglivy Toronto as part of Dove's 'Real Beauty' campaign, the brand claims it wants to reach out to those working on producing 'idealised' images of women (and men, I guess). It created a Photoshop Action that it pushed out onto "sites designers use" such as PSDTuts and, erm, Reddit. The Action claimed to add a flattering glow effect to photos, but instead reverted a photo back to its original form - adding Dove's 'Real Beauty' message to the composition.
It's a smart, funny campaign that appears well-meaning until you remember that it's often the creatives at ad agencies and the clients they are serving that are the ones demanding that models bear only a passing resemblance to reality.
Look a little deeper and the Dove is owned by Unilever - owner of the likes of Lynx (Axe to our American cousins), Brut, Tresemm and lots of other brands that I'd be very surprised if they didn't retouch every models in every one of their campaigns. Worldwide, Oglivy works for clients including Coke and Louis Vuitton.
I'm not denigrating the aim of the campaign - by exploiting that the general public is more easily sold to by a 'prettier' face or 'sexier' form, the creative industries as a whole are responsible for permeating body image problems to both women and men, which can be especially damaging to children and teenagers. But for an ad campaign to single out graphic designers and retouchers is hypocrisy, plain and simple.
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