Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
December 2, 2006

Modern Evolution

Dove-Model

Because appearance and identity are major themes at The BAG, particularly as women and media are involved, I thought we should take a look at this ad.

First some background, though.

At the end of the summer, a story that dominated the news here in Spain was the backlash against underweight fashion models.  Prior to Madrid’s fashion week, the Spanish Association of Fashion Designers, in concert with the local government, instituted a minimum weight standard based on a U.N. recommended body mass index.

Although there was applauding, fist pounding and back pedaling within the industry, the bigger shows that followed — London, Paris and New York — chose not to follow Spain’s lead.

In light of the concern, I became interested in this ad, produced for the Dove company, as part of its Campaign for Real Beauty.  (BAG note: I became aware of the ad in late summer, but didn’t get a chance to blog it till now.)  Given the sophistication of marketing and advertising (and perhaps, too, a growing evolution in social responsibility), it becomes ever more complicated to discern between self-interest and social-mindedness (if you accept the idea) in commercial campaigns.

I know you’ll raise other questions, but here’s mine:  As a hybrid commercial/public service announcement, how much is this ad “doing the right thing,” and how much is it leveraging the “attraction” of social responsibility in the name of selling beauty and beauty products?  And then, in a practical world, is this what you call a “win-win?”

Given our close daily inspection of visuals here at The BAG, there is another extremely illuminating aspect of the ad to take note of.  The subject of photoshopping and digital alteration often comes up here in discussion, but I can’t remember when/if we’ve had the opportunity to really see it process.  In that light, I found the post production sequence rather startling, if not somewhat illicit and even grotesque.

Finally, regarding the opening shot (above), isn’t that look especially riveting — as if, in that intense gaze and plain appearance, this women somehow convinces us she would not be a party to what follows?

I’d love to hear your reactions.

Video: Dove Evolution: From Model To Billboard In Under 60 SecondsLink

Dove Corporation Campaign for Real Beautylink

(Full disclosure: I increased the size, and added contrast to the still.)

(hat tip: BoingBoing. video: Reginald Pike. Yael Staav.Tim Piper/Ogilvy, Toronto via boardsmag.com)

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