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Exclusive! Dove Real Beauty Campaign Statement

Posted Oct 17 2008 6:10pm

Dove is releasing a statement tomorrow on the recent airbrushing controversy behind their “ Real Beauty ” campaign ads.  (You can find the backstory  here  and  here, but in a nutshell, Pascal Dangin, one of the photographers employed by Annie Leibovitz, who shot the ads, is claiming that they were retouched.)  As luck would have it, I’ve been invited to sit at Dove’s table tomorrow when the  Dove Self-Esteem Fund  is being honored by the  Step Up Women’s Network  at their annual Inspiration Awards luncheon. Their publicist just released the statement to me in advance, which I’ll reprint in full:

Statement from Dove about The New Yorker Article

9 May 2008, 4:45pm

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 ProAgecampaign.

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.”

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I was at the press event in Carefree, Arizona years ago when the Campaign For Real Beauty was launched.  I don’t know what actually went on behind the scenes, and I think it’s a bit naive to assume some itchy-fingered photoshopper didn’t indulge himself, even a tiny bit.  Does that dilute the love-your-body, we-are-all-beautiful-no-matter-what-sized-package-we-come-in message of the campaign, however?  I don’t think so—but maybe I’m biased.  What do you think? 

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