Campaigning for 'real' beauty

This week there was some discussion about the Dove campaign in my advertising class at Massey University. It surprised me that the message aroused indifference amongst most of the young women in my class.

The campaign has, by all accounts been a great success for the brand. But 'The campaign for real beauty' is not without its critics.

One of the most interesting points of view is that the message has simply been created with the sole purpose of creating profits for the parent company, rather than expressing an authentic point of view. To support the argument Slate, the online magazine, points out:

Dove's appeal to righteous sisterhood is just another flavor of marketing. And it's not particularly grounded in reality. Are we meant to believe that Unilever, the company that makes Dove, is a force for good? How to reconcile this notion with the ads for another Unilever product, Axe (Lynx in NZ) body spray, in which nearly every woman shown is a skinny, fashion-model-gorgeous nymphomaniac?

Surveying the beauty advertising in fashion magazines shows the Dove campaign is very much in the minority. One point of view, and common advertising dogma, proposes that when competitors 'zig' the thing to do is 'zag'. Become the antigen, the antidote...the uncola.

The last word goes to Slate again:

There's a reason advertising in the beauty industry is almost always aspirational (Oh, if I buy this, I'll look more like the stunningly beautiful woman in the ad?). I would love to think that, with the help of these Dove spots, women will forget all about society's unfair beauty standards and simply aspire to feel good about themselves. That would be wonderful. But I find it hard to believe that Dove has actually reversed a lot of powerful instincts that are deeply rooted in the human psyche. Down the line a little—when the buzz has faded from Dove's social statement as sales pitch—I think we'll begin to see some skinnier, hotter women slipping into their advertising.

Well, maybe not the last word...on the Lovemarks site I note that the thing that most of the women who left messages about Dove as a 'lovemark' like most is...the products. Maybe hype is just that at the end of the day.


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