The beauty brand will start tagging its ads with a ‘No Digital Distortion Mark’ as CVS, Aerie, Bongo and Modcloth bid airbrushing farewell
Beauty is no longer in the eye of the photo editor.
Many companies have faced the embarrassment of publishing photos with an editing faux pas — like when Vanity Fair took heat earlier this year for images that seemed to feature Reese Witherspoon with three legs, and Oprah with a third hand. No wonder 77% of women, and 7 in 10 girls, believe that all images in the media have been digitally altered or airbrushed, according to Dove research.
So the beauty brand that launched the Dove Self-Esteem Project in 2004 is moving its self-love mission forward. Dove recommitted to only featuring real women who haven’t been airbrushed or Photoshopped in its campaigns last year, but on Tuesday it announced that it also will start labeling its ads with a “No Digital Distortion Mark” in July so that consumers can trust that its images haven’t been retouched. And the mark will be on all Dove images showcasing women across print, digital and social media by Jan. 2, 2019.
“As a beauty brand, Dove has always celebrated real women and their beauty — we believe the Mark will help women identify reality in what can be a confusing, digital world and relieve some of the pressure to look a certain way,”Amy Stepanian, Marketing Director of Dove, told Moneyish. “The Mark is another step to help women and girls navigate the media landscape, letting them know that the image they see has not been digitally distorted to fit the ideals of what beauty is and isn’t. We are hoping more brands join us in this, as this commitment needs to be widespread.”
This comes on the heels of the CVS “Beauty in Real Life” campaign announced last month, which features unretouched images of models in the drugstore chain’s television, print, social media and billboard advertising. It has also branded each one with a Beauty Unaltered stamp, a feature that the company calls the “CVS Beauty Mark,” to make the images feel relatable and attainable.
“Beauty in Real Life is the first campaign to demonstrate the commitment we made in January to creating new standards for post-production alteration of beauty imagery with the goal of leading positive change by reflecting more authenticity in beauty,” Norman de Greve, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at CVS Health, told Moneyish. “There’s been a shift in what consumers want to see when it comes to beauty — especially amongst Millennials and Gen Z.”
Dove and CVS join the likes of other large corporations like American Eagle’s Aerie line, Bongo and Modcloth that have also bid Photoshop farewell over the years.
In a poll conducted by Glamour magazine, 41% of 18- to 24-year-old women admitted to retouching their own photos. So just how does eliminating the perfection factor affect business? American Eagle’s lingerie brand has seen sales soar 32% since saying goodbye to airbrushing, according to Business Insider. For the Unilever-owned brand Dove, sales jumped from $2.5 billion to $4 billion after the 2004 launch of its Real Beauty campaign, according to Adweek.
By making a commitment to publish realistic images, psychiatrist Kirsten Thompson told Moneyish, “It provides an opportunity to strike middle ground — of appealing to a possibility of achieving a better version of ourselves.” Thompson also points out that while advertising capitalizes on fleeting unconscious thoughts and often the fantasy of “If I buy that, I will look young and beautiful,” at times, she says “imagery can diverge so far from reality that it can be impossible to relate to.”
By placing a ban on Photoshopped images and cutting out post-production editing of its in-house campaigns, CVS plans to pave the way for outside partners to adopt similar standards by 2020. Until then, Just Say Yes, an organization dedicated to empowering students, parents and teachers, reports that 69% of girls in grades 5 to 12 say magazine pictures influence their idea of a perfect body shape. And, after seeing images of female fashion models, 70% of women felt more depressed and angry than before looking at the images.
While it may not be surprising that magazines often rely upon Photoshop to perfect their images, ad campaigns that feature heavily edited faces and bodies can be misleading. Still, celebrities often come out of the woodwork to proclaim their disappointment when they feel they’ve been misrepresented due to extreme photo editing.
Of course, glam and lighting teams still worked hand-in-hand to make sure beautiful results were seen in the camera for the CVS campaigns. “It’s more about shifting our mindset than our process, aiming for authenticity and self-confidence in every element,” Michael Sharp, founder and CEO of the creative agency Standard Black, who partnered with CVS to create the campaign, told Moneyish. “We first established a production and glam team with a majority of females who would keep our cast genuine and true to themselves.”
He adds that at the end of the day, the biggest surprise was that it doesn’t take much more production time to make sure you won’t need retouching. “In fact, when compensating for post-production, it actually saves time, money and energy. When everyone comes together with the same mission to redefine representation in beauty, the results shine through,” Sharp said.
In 2015, Zendaya took to Instagram to let her followers know that she was shocked to discover her body had been slimmed down by Modeliste Magazine. And in September 2017, Emily Ratajkowski let her fans know that an image of her on Madame Figaro magazine falsely represented her lips and breasts. “I was extremely disappointed to see my lips and breasts altered in photoshop on this cover. I hope the fashion industry will finally learn to stop trying to stifle the things that make us unique and instead begin to celebrate individuality,” she wrote alongside an unedited photo from the same shoot.
This article was originally published on April 25, 2018, and has been updated with Dove’s new mark.
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