Retouching has been a key part of marketing beauty campaigns ever since photography has been a medium. Originally, it was done with careful airbrushing, and now it is done digitally, using sophisticated programs like Photoshop or even simple and accessible apps. Because it has long been ubiquitous in marketing, you and your influencer might be tempted to have the photos in your beauty campaign retouched.
However, we caution you against this. Times are changing, and one major change in advertising in general and beauty and clothing campaigns specifically is a focus on natural and unretouched models. Below are just a few reasons why you should discourage retouching in your beauty campaign.
Thanks to smart devices and social media, consumers are now exposed to more advertising images per day than ever before. And due to this high level of exposure, they are no longer naive about things like retouching images. Rather than looking at poreless skin and perfectly taut bodies and longing to have them, consumers are apt to roll their eyes at such idealized images.
Working with influencers, chances are any retouching will be done by them or someone else who is not all that experienced in retouching photos. This makes mistakes pretty much inevitable. And keep in mind that even if you hire an expert to handle the retouching, things can go wrong. Take the recent Vanity Fair cover, for example, where Reece Witherspoon ended up with three legs and Oprah three hands.
Given that wearing a full face of makeup just to go to the grocery store is also trending, this might seem as though it is not quite right. However, there really has been a strong trend towards focusing on real beauty for more than a decade, starting with the infamous Dove campaign. Now there are entire brands that refuse to use any form of retouching in their campaigns, and consumers are eating it up. This is a trend that is easy to capitalize on, so why not go for it?
For many consumers, the point of influencer advertising is that they get to see the truth about the products they purchase. Rather than buying a foundation that is really just retouching, they want to see the exact level of coverage, how smooth it is, etc. before they place an order. If your images promise one thing and your product delivers another, consumers feel lied to.
And unobtainable beauty doesn’t really inspire that connection. While there are certainly those influencers who make their living by serving as inspiration for their audience, the majority are admired because their audience sees them as real. You do not want to infringe upon this.
Keep in mind that your ability to avoid retouching in your beauty campaign will depend on the influencer you choose to work with. For some influencers, every photo they share is heavily retouched and that is all part of their image. While these influencers may be glamorous and beautiful, they won’t be suited for a campaign that skips the Photoshop.