Last January, CVS Health announced an ambitious goal to rid beauty aisles of digitally altered imagery. Dubbed CVS Beauty Mark, the two-year-long effort would involve a product watermark alerting consumers that models had not been Photoshopped. It would be reflected in stores, ad campaigns, as well in social media efforts. The company was on a mission to not only transform its own inventory, but to compel brand partners to do the same.
“We will not digitally alter or change a person’s shape, size, proportion, skin, or eye color or enhance or alter lines, wrinkles, or other individual characteristics,” the company promised. It hoped to achieve full beauty campaign transparency by 2020.
Today, the retail division of CVS Health announced significant progress: 70% of all beauty imagery in stores is now compliant with the no-manipulation standard, it said.
“Consumers aren’t feeling good about themselves when they see unrealistic images in fashion magazines, online, and in their social feed. And the industry is propagating that,” CVS Health president Kevin Hourican tells Fast Company. “We wanted to stand for a change within our stores and with our media platforms.”
As the second largest beauty retailer in the country, CVS was able to convince numerous brands to join the cause. Partners include Neutrogena, CoverGirl, Revlon, Olay, Almay, Aveeno, Rimmel, L’Oreal,Maybelline, Unilever, Burt’s Bees, and Physician’s Formula, among others. The brands had to shoot entirely new campaigns and work with the CVS marketing team to ensure authenticity standards.
“It was not a small task. We couldn’t have done it without our brand partners,” says Hourican. “One could have thought that they would be resistant to this effort, and the complete opposite is true: They’ve leaned into it in a meaningful way.”
These are not the first brands to embrace the “body positivity” movement.
Fashion brands like Aerie and Modcloth issued bans on Photoshop, while Dove has supported demonstrating more realistic imagery of women for years. This past summer, beauty brand Urban Decay released a campaign that explicitly showed models’ unedited skin, with close-ups of visible pores, wrinkles, and sun spots.
“This unrealistic image that is being portrayed through the industry is a health issue,” stresses Hourican. As a father of two teen girls, he says he was influenced by the stat that the 90% of teenage girls feel worse about themselves after seeing a fashion magazine or their Instagram feed. “It saddens me to think that they’re being inundated with these images of attainable and unrealistic beauty.”
Meanwhile, countries such as Israel and France legally require advertisers to disclose when imagery of models has been digitally modified.