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Were the Real Dove Women Fake? Dove Says No

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Laura Collins of the New Yorker dropped a bomb in the magazine’s recent issue, with her feature of famous photo re-toucher Pascal Dangin.

It all revolves around Dove’s “Campaign For Real Beauty” advertising campaign, which featured “real” women (i.e. not models).

However, this week, in the New Yorker story, and then in AdAge, accusations of photo retouching started flying, because of this quote from Dangin: ‘Do you know how much retouching was on that? …it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.’”

Dangin then issued a statement saying, “My quotes have been taken out of context and my role with Dove misconstrued.”

Photo retouching is the norm in the magazine industry, however a lot of hype was granted to this campaign for presenting the images of “real” women, hence all of the current fuss.

Other mediabistro bloggers have also chimed in. Writes AgencySpy, “Call me a cynic, but I’m yawning my way through this ‘crisis.’” Design blog UnBeige never really liked the campaign to begin with. “Like most media or ad people, this writer has disliked Unilever’s entire deceptive ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ from the start, from their billion-YouTube-views ‘Evolution’ video to the massive push two years ago with the ‘regular women in underwear’ ads,” they wrote.

To their credit, Dove resonded rather quickly, issing a statement within twenty four hours of when the accusations started flying, and in time for the “second news cycle.” The full statement, issued by Dove PR agency Edelman, after the jump.


Statement from Dove about The New Yorker Article

Dove’s mission is to make more women feel beautiful every day by widening the definition of beauty and inspiring them to take great care of themselves. Dove strives to portray women by accurately depicting their shape, size, skin color and age.

The “real women” ad referenced in recent media coverage was created and produced entirely by Ogilvy, the Dove brand’s advertising agency, from start to finish and the women’s bodies were not digitally altered.

Pascal Dangin worked with photographer Annie Leibovitz (Ogilvy has never employed Mr. Dangin on the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty), who did the photography for the launch of the Dove ProAge campaign, a new campaign within the Campaign for Real Beauty. There was an understanding between Dove and Ms. Leibovitz that the photos would not be retouched – the only actions taken were the removal of dust from the film and minor color correction.

“Let’s be perfectly clear – Pascal does all kinds of work – but he is primarily a printer – and only does retouching when asked to. The idea for Dove was very clear at the beginning. There was to be NO retouching and there was not,” confirmed Annie Leibovitz, commenting on the ProAge campaign.

Mr. Dangin responded, “The recent article published by The New Yorker incorrectly implies that I retouched the images in connection with the Dove “real women” ad. I only worked on the Dove ProAge campaign taken by Annie Leibovitz and was directed only to remove dust and do color correction – both the integrity of the photographs and the women’s natural beauty were maintained.”

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