Dove, Shonda Rhimes Call On Ad Industry To Take Responsibility For Images, Content

Writer and Producer Shonda Rhimes and Dove challenged industry leaders at the Cannes Lions Festival on Thursday to take responsibility for the images and content they use in their media and advertising.

The message discussed during the panel, called “Time to Step Up: Smashing Beauty Stereotypes,” challenged advertisers to use images of real women in the content they produce.

Known for an ongoing commitment to real beauty, Dove invested in the #ShowUs image bank without profit, so the industry would have access to more inclusive, real imagery of women in an effort to smash stereotypes.

The database of images was created through a partnership with Girlgaze and Getty Images, which now house the database of pictures. It took more than a year to create the database, analyzing search terms and behavioral patterns. The descriptions were written by the models, rather than the photographers. 



Photographer and CEO of Girlgaze Amanda de Cadenet curated the images.

Dove’s team built a tech platform -- a portal -- to support the cause. All the creative was uploaded, to a place where ad professionals could sign off on their projects.

Rhimes, which has been dubbed the first African-American creator and executive producer of a Top 10 network series, said she is committed to showing a real perspective of the world in her work, and that’s why she joined Dove to support Project #ShowUs, a new image collection of 179 women from 39 countries of all races, ethnicity and sizes, as well as non-binary gender orientations.

“The images we have are powerful and true, and feel realistic and real,” Rhimes said. “And that’s a beautiful and amazing thing.”

When the photographers were hired to take the photos, the women were able to tag themselves in the finished product, so the women in the images determined how they wanted to be represented. The photographer typically takes the responsibility to describe what’s in the image. In this case the model was asked to describe herself, how she felt and what she thought. It created a new vocabulary that will enable brands using the images to search by in the database.

This project aims to smash beauty stereotypes, which still exist. “Seven in 10 women are feeling invisible or marginalized, and generally not represented in media and advertising,” said Sophie Galvani, Dove Global VP. “It has an enormous impact on our girls and women. We know girls are not putting their hands up in class. We know women are not putting themselves forward in their careers, they’re not going for interviews. It’s even affecting their health, they’re not going to the doctor and not taking place in social activities.”

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