With ‘Reverse Selfie,’ Dove is again tackling the pervasive problem of digital distortion

Who: Dove Canada, with Ogilvy for creative (led out of the U.K.), Edelman for PR and Mindshare for media.

What: “Reverse selfie,” a contemporary update of the brand’s wildly successful—and influential—2006 Canadian spot “Dove Evolution”—a double Grand Prix winner in Cannes that remains one of the hallmark advertisements in Dove’s ongoing “Campaign for Real Beauty” 15 years after its debut.

When & Where: The campaign is running nationally, targeting women 25-54 through a mix of channels including TV and social (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok). “It’s important for us to have our audience interact with our content on the channels the issues are occurring on most,” said Ashley Boyce, marketing manager, skin cleansing and Dove masterbrand.

Why: Because even though awareness of photo manipulation has grown in the years since “Dove Evolution,” young women are still bombarded with images presenting unrealistic depictions of beauty. The tools used to create those were once available exclusively to professionals, but they are now readily available to anyone with an Instagram account.

According to research from the Dove Self-Esteem Project, 80% of Canadian girls have downloaded a filter or used an app to change how they look in photos by the age of 13; more than two-thirds (67%) try to hide or change at least one body part or feature before posting a picture, and 37% of Canadian girls say they don’t look good enough without some form of photo editing.

How: The dialogue-free spot plays backwards from a young woman’s Instagram post (which elicits responses like “OMG you look amazing!!!”) through all of the steps she took to attain that perfect look—from using easily obtainable photo editing tools to make her hair fuller, and change the shape of features like her lips and chin, and using various makeup products like eyeliner and lip gloss.

The spot concludes by showing viewers a young girl who bears little resemblance to the young adult we see in the final photo, accompanied by a super reading “The pressure of social media is hurting our girls’ self-esteem,” while noting that increased screen time during the pandemic has exacerbated the situation.

The creative urges parents to have the “Selfie Talk” with their kids, and directs to a dedicated section of the Dove website housing a “Confidence Kit” consisting of a resource guide for both parents and teachers.

And we quote: “It’s disheartening to learn how large a problem the confidence crisis has become in Canada, with 37% of girls saying they don’t look good enough without any photo editing. We need to support the next generation and make them feel confident in who they are and how they look without a filter or photo editing app.” —Ashley Boyce, marketing manager, skin cleansing and Dove masterbrand

Chris Powell