When you think of Photoshop these days, you might well envision fashion models being airbrushed within an inch of their lives. But there's so much more to the image-editing software, as Adobe reminds us with a colorful, energetic spot celebrating Photoshop's 25th birthday.
The 60-second spot, created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, will air Sunday on the Oscars in select markets. It steers clear of the fashion business entirely, focusing instead on two other industries that use Photoshop heavily—design and illustration, and film itself.
The latter makes perfect sense for a spot breaking on the Academy Awards. And the former serves up plenty of beautiful, hypnotic images that keep the spot hurtling along, helped by Aerosmith's 1973 power ballad "Dream On."
Adweek spoke with Alex Amado, Adobe's senior director of creative and media, who called Photoshop's 25th birthday "a huge milestone" for the company.
"It's the tool we put out into the world that's had the broadest impact," he said. "It's used in the design process of pretty much everything we see and touch these days—every ad you've reviewed, all the photography in every publication, everything from logos on T-shirts to billboards, industrial design and the movies."
The spot, he said, is both a tribute and a challenge to Photoshop's users.
"It's a tribute to the amazing creatives who have used this product and helped us evolve it and conceive of even greater uses," he said. "And we want to challenge the next generation of designers and artists and photographers and moviemakers to dream even bigger, and we'll help them get there."
Aside from the movie images, most of the art in the spot was sourced from Behance, the Adobe-owned creative community. (There's a Behance collection here that links out to the artist pages of many of the featured works.) The images were chosen for their cutting-edge artistry, and also, in certain cases, for matching up with some of the "Dream On" lyrics.
In almost every shot, someone appears to be manipulating the image using Photoshop, which is a nice nod to the product without being overbearing. "If it were just a montage of images, then it's just a slide show set to music," Amado said. "We wanted to give it more motion and action. And this way, it represents the kinds of things that happen to images as designers work with them."
As for the lack of fashion imagery, Amado said Adobe didn't want to clutter the spot by showing too many uses of the software across too many disciplines. "If we had fashion and product design and package design, we thought it might be a head-scratcher," he said.
More broadly, Amado did address the criticism of Photoshop's role in perpetuating unrealistic body types. "People use Photoshop in incredible ways in art and commerce, design, astronomy, medicine," he said. "It's used in special effects in film, but it's also used in solving crime. We don't like it when it's used in negative ways, and we don't support that. But we also feel that the good far, far outweighs any challenges."
Amado credited GS&P for coming up with "the heart of what made this ad sing." And GS&P co-founder Rich Silverstein, who was heavily involved in the concepting, added that it was high time Photoshop had a birthday party.
"It's not only about retouching celebrities or creating fun Internet memes. It's an amazing tool that helps imagination come to life," he said. "It's hard to find something in the last 25 years that hasn't been touched by Photoshop. We wanted to show that once you open a Photoshop file anything can happen. It's an unsung hero, and it was time to sing its praises."
Project: Photoshop 25th Anniversary – "Dream On"
Length: 60 seconds
Product: Adobe Photoshop
Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Co-Chairman, Creative Director: Rich Silverstein
Creative Directors: Adam Reeves, Patrick Knowlton, Will Elliott
Associate Creative Directors: Sam Luchini, Roger Baran
Executive Producer: Tod Puckett
Producer: Timothy Plain
Director of Graphic Services: Jim King
Business Affairs Manager: Heidi Killeen
Account Director: Joel Giullian
Account Managers: Cassi Norman, Chelsea Bruzzone
Brand Strategy Director: Anne Faricy
Director of Communications Strategy: Christine Chen
Senior Communications Strategist: Joe Gruchacz
Communications Strategist: Victoria Barbatelli
Junior Communications Strategist: Tara Hughes
Production and Postproduction
Directors: Brady Baltezore, Mike Landry
Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissors
Executive Producer: Angela Dorian
Producer: Cristina Matracia
Editor: Grant Surmi
Assistant Editor: Arielle Zakowski
Color: Chris Martin @ Spy Post
Graphics Company: eLevel Studios
Executive Producer: PJ Koll
Creative Directors: Brady Baltezore, Mike Landry
Producer: Luke Dillon
Artists: Nathan Shipley, Kyle Westbrook, Chad Ford, Jessica Gibson, Karim Fawzy, Jon Corriveau, Devin Earthman
Final Mix: Dave Baker
Photoshop Effects Artists: Sam Nordemann, Kleber Lacher, Philip Chudy
Ahmed Emad Eldin
Dan Elijah Fajardo
El Grand Chamaco
Juan Carlos Paz -Bakea
KJA Artists Fredrico
Mario Sanchez Nevado