This post is part of Rassak’s “YouTube Tuesdays Plus” featuring mini critiques of product and service videos (plus other digital brand experiences). New on Tuesdays. Don’t miss one, subscribe.
I actually got the shivers from this video that captures a new aspect of the famous Dove Real Beauty campaign. I don’t know if you will have the same reaction. But it was very moving to me. You know the campaign, right? Where Dove hires models that look like actual people (not stick-figures) to advertise their skincare products? Read on… or jump to the video at the bottom of this post.
In a better world the models in a Dove campaign would not be out of the ordinary. But in our world it is out of the ordinary. So Dove, in a brilliant move, leveraged the out-of-the-ordinariness of their campaign to gain a lot of free media (sometimes called “earned media”) as people talked a lot about Dove. Side benefit: they also brought a lot of attention to the issue (a large paid media budget helps a lot here too) and are helping to normalize normal in advertising.
Dove recently pulled a very cool stunt as part of their overall campaign. They created a piece of kinda-software called a “Photoshop Action” (I’ll explain in a sec) and made sure that Photoshop artists everywhere knew about it—by posting links to it on online design forums. Photoshop artists, after all, inhabit ground zero in the body image wars. They are the ones who remove inches and curves and wrinkles and normalcy from bodies — both in ads and in articles/photo-spreads in magazines. They act under the direction of creative and art directors, of course, who themselves act under the direction of, well, THE MAN, but still they play a key role in how society defines and amplifies beauty.
Photoshop Actions are add-ons to make Photoshop users’ lives easier and better. They combine a series of difficult or time-consuming tasks into one a one-click action (hence the name). Many exist for free or for sale. Anyway, the Photoshop Action Dove released (via their Canadian ad agency) was called Beautify. It promised to one-click beautify a model in Photoshop—by adding a skinglow effect. And it did beautify the model… except it did it by undoing any image manipulations the artist had already performed and taking the model back to her/his natural state of real beauty. Artists could (once they took in the point) easily get their work back.
The power of this aspect of the campaign likely sits more in the video about the Photoshop Action than the Photoshop Action itself. Here you go:
BTW, for some really interesting background, check out this is a great 2009 New York Times video op-ed “Sex Lies and Photoshop”about photo retouching in advertising. You might also like the piece Point, Shoot, Retouch, and Label?