Dove’s ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ Deceptions Sorta Kinda Denied

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As if to say, “We in advertising didn’t mean to sell things by deceiving people into thinking their lives would be better if they purchased our products,” the team of Unilver, Annie Leibovitz and Pascal Dangin are all three denying the big story floating around late last week that the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign was digitally altered to make the models more appealing. But it appears to be more damage control by Annie Leibovitz and her posse than it does by Unilver and Ogilvy & Mather, the ad agency behind it all. Leibovitz didn’t come into the campaign until two years after it started running and no one seems to want to talk about what was going on before she came into the picture, which is just about the same as saying, “Yeah, we were doing it before, but then our budget went up as the campaign got more high-profile, so we hired a big shot photographer who could hide all of their flaws in-camera.” Here’s a bit from Dangin, celebrated photo-retoucher:

The photos for that 2005 ad were taken by London celebrity fashion photographer Ian Rankin, not Ms. Leibovitz, with whom Mr. Dangin long has worked. Mr. Rankin couldn’t be reached at press time.

“As directed by Ms. Leibovitz and Ogilvy & Mather, [the Pro-Age] photographs were retouched for dust and color correction,” he said. “I did not mean to suggest that the women’s shape, size, facial features or age were retouched. Consistent with the intent of Dove, Ogilvy & Mather, Annie Leibovitz, and my own guiding philosophy, the integrity of the photographs and the natural and unique beauty of the women were maintained.”