Personal care brand Dove adding watermark to untouched ad photos by 2019

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Personal care brand Dove adding watermark to untouched ad photos by 2019
The Unilever brand, acclaimed for its Self-Esteem Project, announced a ‘No Digital Distortion Mark’ initiative this week. In doing so, Dove joins a growing number of brands, retailers, and media that have given up Photo Shopping—and are verifying as much with a sort of certification seal—in response to consumer demand for more representative images in beauty advertising.

In 2017, Dove made a promise to only use images of women and beauty that were true and accurate. The brand’s new No Digital Distortion Mark project is an extension of that Real Beauty Pledge.

“Last year, we pledged to use images with zero digital distortion,”​ affirms Sophie Galvani, global vice president of Dove, in a media release about the new initiative.

“This year, we want to go one step further and give women a tool to help them understand what is real and what isn’t,” ​she explains.

Galvani is optimistic that “the Mark will help women identify reality and relieve some of the pressure to look a certain way.” ​And it’s a way of encouraging other brands to follow suit: “We are hoping more brands join us in this movement, as this commitment needs to be widespread,” ​says Galvani.

Confidence first

Since the brand’s Real Beauty campaign in 2004, Dove has been increasingly focused on marketing that foregrounds confidence. The No Digital Distortion Mark is “another step in ensuring beauty is a source of confidence and not anxiety,” ​according to this week’s media release.

The company’s own research shows that consumers are ready for a change in advertising practices. 77% of women around the world “have lost faith” ​in the advertising images they see, according to a 2016 Dove research report. And, 69% of those women “cite increasing pressures from advertising and media to reach an unrealistic standard of beauty as a key force in driving appearance anxiety.”

Expert insights

Dove backs up its Self-Esteem Project with insights from experts in culture and body image.

“When content in the media is not reflective of reality, it has a profound negative effect on the viewer,” ​says Jess Weiner, Cultural Expert and Adjunct Professor at University of Southern California Annenberg School of Journalism, whose remarks are quoted in the latest Dove media release.

“By viewing unrealistic and unachievable beauty images it creates an unattainable goal which leads to feelings of failure,” ​adds Weiner; and, “this is especially true of young girls who have grown up in a world of filters and airbrushing.”

Dr. Phillippa Diedrechs, a body image expert also quoted by Dove, believes brands and media makers have an obligation to not show unattainable images. “The responsibility shouldn't solely be on the viewer,” ​says Diedrechs. “Brands can do more to showcase reality and take this unnecessary pressure away. By doing so, we can have a positive impact on the lives of young girls”

Diedrechs believes that "through the work of the Dove Self-Esteem project, we teach children to question what they see in the media and not to take everything at face value.”

Get real seal

Dove’s No Digital Distortion Mark will start showing up on ads and images next month. The brand's deodorant campaigns will be the first to include the mark.

Then by the start of next year, all of Dove’s still advertising will include the mark that ensures consumers they are seeing women on the page or screen as they are in real life. “By January 2, 2019, the mark will be incorporated into all static imagery showcasing women, across print, digital and social and will represent that the image is not distorted,”​ according to the media release.

The brand sees the mark as a way to be more responsible: “Dove will be held accountable to only show accurate and genuine portrayals of people, showing them how they are in real life.”  

Read more about how other brands and retailers are moving ahead with no – Photo Shopping policies here on Cosmetics Design​.



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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