Dove Says It’ll Never Use AI on Women in Its Advertisements

A collage of images show different types of women.

Dove announced this week a commitment never to use artificial intelligence (AI) in its ads, becoming the first beauty brand to do so.

The pledge, which states more specifically that “Dove will never use AI to create or distort women’s images” is a continuation of Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, which the company notes, kicked off 20 years ago.

“Today, almost nine in 10 women and girls say they have been exposed to harmful beauty content online,” a release from Dove reads. One of the biggest threats to the representation of real beauty is artificial intelligence. With 90 percent of the content online expected to be AI-generated by 2025, the rise of AI is a threat to women’s well-being, with one in three women feel pressure to alter their appearance because of what they see online, even when they know it’s fake or AI generated.”

Dove further stated that its 2024 The Real State of Beauty: a global report found that, “while beauty ideals have evolved over the years to be more inclusive across race, orientation, gender and size, the checklist of appearance ideals is growing and impossible to meet — from looking healthy (81 percent) to also being slim (72 percent) and having a small waist (69 percent) while also being curvy (59 percent).”

A video advertisement titled “The Code” marked the announcement of the anti-AI vow. In it, a woman types in AI-generated image prompts including “perfect skin” and “gorgeous woman.” The results offer up thin women with similar facial features, small button noses, light eyes, and almost all blonde and white. Then, the ad claims to show results when “Dove” is added to the prompt. For example, a query for “the most beautiful woman in the world” turns into “the most beautiful woman in the world according to [Dove brand logo] Read Beauty Ad.” This time, only some of the results show thin women. Most racial diversity is represented as well as age disparity. The first AI-generated woman shown pans out from her face to reveal she’s in a wheelchair. “Perfect skin according to [Dove brand logo] Real Beauty Ad now has wrinkles and age spots. It’s unclear what generative AI model was used.

In addition to serving as an advertising vehicle, Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign flirts with ideas of body positivity.

“Today, women and girls overwhelmingly agree that real beauty means being authentic, who you are, and embracing our differences,” the company known for its soaps and lotions said in its release. “In line with the last two decades, Dove will continue taking action to dismantle toxic beauty standards until beauty is a source of happiness and confidence, not anxiety, for everyone. Dove will continue to stand for ‘real,’ and champion transparency and diversity in beauty by becoming the first beauty brand to commit to never using AI in place of real people in its advertising.”

Since the explosion of AI-generated images over the last couple of years, companies and organizations have been left scrambling to keep up. This often leaves people to their own devices when it comes to figuring out whether AI has or hasn’t been used in whatever they’re seeing. The issue came up with an ad for the UK-based organization Charity Right leading posters on Reddit to speculate over the veracity of the images. Meanwhile, Google and communications and advertising company WPP announced a collaboration to use Gemini AI in marketing.

Image credits: Dove