Olay Will Stop Retouching Advertisements by the End of 2020

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Olay, the skincare brand owned by Procter & Gamble, will no longer retouch photos in its advertisements, it announced today at an event in New York City. The plan is to end all retouching in Olay’s advertising imagery—in print, digital, TV and out-of-home—by the end of 2020.

Coinciding with the announcement is a release of a new campaign, “My Olay,” created by Badger & Winters (the agency behind Olay’s space-themed Super Bowl spot and its “Face Anything” campaign) and starring Denise Bidot, Lilly Singh and Busy Philipps. Singh and Philipps starred in the aforementioned Super Bowl ad.

As a part of the changes, Olay is introducing a “Skin Promise” seal, which will denote when one of Olay’s images hasn’t been retouched.

An image of Lilly Singh featuring Olay's "Skin Promise" seal

An image of Lilly Singh featuring Olay’s “Skin Promise” seal

Kate DiCarlo, Olay’s senior communications manager, said on a panel announcing the move today in New York that making the switch is “a massive undertaking,” but one that Olay didn’t hesitate to undertake. The initiative, in fact, started with the imagery for Olay’s Super Bowl ad, which was not retouched.

“It’s important that young women understand that it isn’t how they look that’s important; it’s who they are and what they can do,” added Madonna Badger, co-founder and CCO of Badger & Winters. “When we retouch to perfection, which is utterly unattainable, then we’re really sending a horrible message.”

Olay is extending its expectations of no retouching to all its partners, including the influencers the brand works with. To prove the point, Philipps, who also spoke on the panel announcing the news, shared that under her contract with Olay, she is not allowed to use Botox or fillers to alter her appearance.

“I think that that’s really important as well, because they’re not only just not retouching, but this is my face as it is and as it’s lived,” she said. “I’m really proud of that as well. I love that part of the contract.”

The debate around retouching imagery in advertising is one that’s picked up steam in recent years, thanks in large part to brands who have introduced high-profile no-retouching programs. Aerie announced that it would no longer retouch images in 2014, and, early last year, CVS announced its CVS Beauty Mark, which would be displayed on imagery and packaging that is not retouched in its stores.

Olay hopes that the move will encourage other brands to do the same. As DiCarlo said: “If a brand as large as Olay can do this, anyone can do this.”

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