Dove Targets Art Directors in New Campaign

Photoshop ambush reaches retouchers before images reach the world

Photoshop ambush reaches retouchers before images reach the world

Dove has long positioned itself a purveyor of positive body image. With past creative work, the Unilever-owned personal care brand showed consumers how drastically a photo can be enhanced with airbrushing. In its latest Canadian-made campaign, Dove is targeting the ones who nip and tuck: art directors, graphic designers and photo retouchers.

The brand used Reddit to post a downloadable Photoshop tool, disguising its message as a feature that offers to add a skin glow effect. Much to the surprise of those who downloaded it hoping for enhancement help, the tool actually reverts the manipulated image back to its original state, removing any airbrushing work or filters used to remedy a model’s flaws. While an easy undo option lets the designer continue editing if they want, they are also confronted by a pop-up message asking them to reconsider.


According to Matt Hassell and Ian MacKellar, chief creative officers at OgilvyOne, catching art directors in the act is a bolder and hopefully more effective way of reaching their conscience. “They’re huge influencers,” said Hassell. “[This campaign] is an interesting angle into people who are powerful.”

Hassell and MacKellar also said it’s no longer just art professionals who use Photoshop to manipulate digital images. Editing software is readily available online, and many now use it to erase perceived imperfections from their own photos. “This is the new battlefield for us,” said Hassell.

Hassell added that even if art directors ignore the message and continue editing where they left off, the “Thought Before Action” campaign will force them to ponder the effects of their work.

“When they see the action take place and revert their layout back, there should be that moment of ‘oh, I should think about this.’”

The campaign is currently living through social media – on Reddit, where the tool is still downloadable, and via Twitter and Facebook, where the corresponding video is being widely shared and discussed.

While art directors were the intended target of the campaign, many others have noticed it, too. “Our intent to begin with was to speak directly to designers and photo retouchers,” said Hassell. “But clearly there’s an audience out there beyond that. There’s a lot of conversation happening, but we’re not pushing it at all.”

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