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Dove Photoshop Action 'Beautify' Secretly Reverts Images, Makes Models Look More 'Real'


Don't look now, but Dove may be undoing all your Photoshop work.

As part of its long-running "Campaign for Real Beauty," the brand has launched a nicely-subversive new branded Photoshop action that secretly reverts your images back to their original state.

Which means all the baggy eyes, moles and muffin tops you spent so long "airbrushing" away suddenly reappear, returning your models to their true selves – wrinkles and all. (Designers, don't worry: It's easily undone.)

"Don't manipulate our perceptions of real beauty," admonishes an advertisement for the effort (from Ogilvy Toronto) which is aimed at "shaming the body-shamers," as Co.Create recently put it. 

In my book THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, I take an in-depth look at this venerable campaign and its history of innovative marketing initiatives, digital and otherwise. It isn't every day, after all, that you see massive global campaigns aimed at seamlessly pitching Dove products like Firming Cream and Exfoliating Body Wash - while promoting healthy body image and encouraging girls and women to eschew beauty industry stereotypes.

Among my favorites: Times Square billboards that let passersby vote on whether a model is "fat or fabulous," "wrinkled or wonderful," and "oversized or outstanding" via mobile voting. And, more recently, an initiative that enabled women to switch out Facebook ads that are downers (beauty ads that feature negative or unrealistic visuals) with uplifting ads that encourage women to define their own ideal of beauty.

It was all enough to see the campaign become the first ever to win both the TV and cyber Grand Prix Awards at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

(You can listen to my interview with Unilever's then-SVP of Global Media, Laura Klauberg - about the astonishing results the campaign has been generating, and how digital in general, and social media, online video and mobile, in particular, have reshaped the way Unilever markets its personal care brands – here)

Until now, the campaign has been aimed squarely at end-users who must embrace or reject harmful beauty stereotypes. I believe this is the first element to target those who craft images that can warp our perceptions of beauty. The action was surreptitiously placed on design tool sites as a free download, without mention of its true purpose. Which could be a little cruel. But for many, the turnabout may be very fair play, indeed.

Read more about the "Beautify" action, here.


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