Fashion firm uses algorithm to determine the perfect face for six major cities

What do models look like when they equally represent the demographic make up of cities around the world? Fashion company Benetton tried to find out for its latest campaign advertising its Carnival Capsule Collection, dubbed “a celebration of color,” that debuted this month. 

Called “the Face of the City,” campaign, the company aimed to create the “ideal” resident highlighting city diversity with algorithmically-generated images that represented individuals in the six fashion capitals of the world: Tokyo, New York, Milan, Berlin, Paris, and London. The composite images of models in each city were then used in advertising. 

Benetton

To figure out what the face of each capital city would look like, Benetton analyzed the ethnic make up based on demographic data from international and city-specific census reports and other information sources. Once the racial mix was calculated, Benetton found models with accurate facial traits to represent the data and put their photographs through an algorithm programmed to combine the facial traits in a way that reflected the statistical analysis. 

Features including eye and nose shape, skin tone, hair color and style, and face shape were all characteristics the algorithm took into account. “Surely a software may have helped to reveal it, but there’s little space for doubt: that world is finally here and diversity is even more beautiful than we imagined it to be,” the company said in a blog post announcing the campaign.

Benetton

While the generated images became stereotypically beautiful women you’d find in any other traditional fashion advertising, subtle differences highlight the diversity of each city. As Benetton explained, half the population of New York is either Black or Latino, and in Milan, Filipinos and Egyptians make up the largest foreign communities. The women in the ads display some of these characteristics. 

It’s not the first time Benetton has highlighted social issues in its marketing. As AdWeek notes, it ran the controversial campaign featuring world leaders kissing in 2011, and in 1991, “Pieta,” was a photographic project that exposed and documented the life of an AIDS patient. 

H/T FastCompany | Photo via Benetton

Selena Larson

Selena Larson

Selena Larson is a technology reporter based in San Francisco who writes about the intersection of technology and culture. Her work explores new technologies and the way they impact industries, human behavior, and security and privacy. Since leaving the Daily Dot, she's reported for CNN Money and done technical writing for cybersecurity firm Dragos.