Brenda Surminski, Ogilvy/Toronto

Published on .

Ogilvy's Toronto office began working on the Dove Self-Esteem Fund with the "Little Girls" spot in 2005, which ended up airing during the Super Bowl last year, a first for this category, and a brave move for Unilever. The spot went global in 2006. With that success we continued with the production of "Daughters" and "Evolution." The purpose of "Evolution" was to condense into one minute the process that a model goes through from sitting in the chair with no makeup to the final billboard. It was a succinct and utterly compelling concept. We just had to find the right production team to execute it.

We spoke to three directors and interestingly Yael [Staav] was the only woman. Was that why she got the job? No. Her overall treatment and approach were why we chose her. She has a wonderful blend of femininity and authority that works well with issues like this one. Her work doesn't possess any affectation and that was brilliant for our needs. "Evolution" was very much a technical spot, and Yael collaborated with the photographer, Gabor Jurina and very closely with [creative director] Tim Piper to execute the live action, transferring Tim's vision to film.

Casting was the toughest part of the job. We asked Gabor to suggest models who a) would be willing to have the world to see them without makeup and b) whose looks could deliver a demonstrative "evolution" from no makeup to makeup. We needed the model to be someone anyone of us could relate to. We wanted the viewer to see herself in the ad. We reviewed books followed by a live casting session. We were looking for someone who felt like "everygirl," who without all the makeup looked almost ordinary.

The shoot itself was very much like videotaping a fashion photo shoot. The biggest challenge was for our model to keep her head as still as possible and remain in the same position for eight hours while she was being plied with makeup and hair products. Postproduction was a labor of love. We engaged Toronto's Soho Post who dedicated a team to work closely with Tim. First, Paul Gowan at Rogue Editorial built the basic structure combining the photos with the video, editing out thousands of frames to create the correct timing. He used multiple photos supplied by the retoucher, a process that took close to two weeks. It then went to Kevin Gibson at Soho Post who worked on it for another three weeks on a Quantel Infinity, doing the color transfer and then stabilizing the images before he began the animation.

Additionally, we shot and finished for the internet and that was something new for me. Often our spots are finished for broadcast as well as online, but this spot was produced specifically for online consumption. You have to think in terms of a 2" X 2" square as the viewing area. Also, we shot this on high definition. In post, the creative team felt it was necessary to push into the frame about 50% to ensure clear visibility within our 2"x2" screen. We were then told we couldn't go that far without severe pixilation. The best moment of the job came when our Unilever clients hugged us after the first screening. And when Kevin at Soho pushed in 50% without pixilation.

Fun Facts:

How many hits has the site generated? Three million on YouTube to date.1.2 million on (the Canadian website for Dove).

What was the most interesting piece of feedback you got from the work? "Was this done in Canada?"

How did the actress in the spot react to how she looked in the end? I know that (Stephanie) was thrilled to be involved with Dove and I think after she got over the shock of seeing herself retouched, she was fine. what's the total number of tweaks you made to the actress in the spot? We had 112 retouched photos—about 55 of these were used.

How did you know when to stop tweaking? Once Stephanie started to look like an alien we knew it was too extreme.
Most Popular
In this article: