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Airbrushing and Selling a Fake Image
Rebecca Ortiz, an assistant professor of advertising at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, who researches issues of sex, gender, and the media, said that CVS’s decision to stop substantially retouching photos for their CVS-brand beauty products is an incredibly smart move for their brand, and the beauty industry in general, for two reasons.
“First, many brands, particularly beauty-centered brands, are seeing a great deal of positive feedback from consumers when they decide to shift towards greater transparency and authenticity in their advertising. Both Dove and Aerie are great examples of brands that have taken advantage of this consumer desire for body-positivity and seen positive sales results,” said Ortiz.
“While CVS is not necessarily innovative in their idea to ditch the airbrush, many brands have yet to fully embrace this type of authenticity, so CVS will still be able to claim that they were early adopters of this movement. They may even end up being one of the most memorable brands in this area, because they will eventually nudge their suppliers (non-CVS brands) to adhere to the same standards, or those brands will be ousted as ‘digitally modified,’ and not much is more damaging than being considered ‘fake’ in today’s market of beauty and health products,” says Ortiz.
“Second, this move by CVS is consistent with their other recent branding tactics. In the past few years, CVS quit selling tobacco products in their stores and rebranded themselves as ‘CVS Health”’to position themselves as more than just a drugstore, but as an integral part of their consumers’ journey to live a healthy lifestyle. Being healthy is about the physical and mental, and a substantial body of research provides evidence that unrealistic body images can have substantial negative impact on our mental health. CVS’s decision to remove this unhealthy imagery is concurrent with these other efforts,” says Ortiz.
Ortiz is available to speak to media about this issue. She can be reached at email@example.com or 315.443.1911 and you can follow her on Twitter. Further questions can be directed to Ellen James Mbuqe, director of news and PR at Syracuse University, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315.443.1897 or Keith Kobland, media manager at Syracuse University, at email@example.com or 315.443.9038.