Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty is an interesting exercise on a number of levels. Whilst it is laudable that a stand has been taken against conventional beauty being the only measure for women, the campaign is flawed for a number of reasons.
First of all it is part of the cosmetics industry which has used advertising and point of purchase sale counters in department stores to point out to women how they can cover their unsightly features and given them unfair role models to aspire to. Hell, even catwalk models get the Photoshop treatment to enhance their skin for photo shoots. Dove owners Unilever should have started its campaign with a very public mea culpa for their past sins against women and alter its marketing of the Calvin Klein, Elizabeth Arden, Chloe, Faberge, Lagerfeld, Scherrer, Elizabeth Taylor and Valentino brands. Instead the research report carried out by a PR consultancy cops out and blames the media in general, please!
Secondly, plus-sized women, its not about how you feel about yourself – obesity is a health issue and predicted to be a future drain on healthcare resources dealing with diabetes, heart and circulatory issues and bone damage – the whole fat and proud thing doesn’t wash. Heroin addict chic is not cool either.
Thirdly, the campaign doesn’t seem to focus on the dynamics of beauty that much. An old girlfriend of mine once told me that women spruce themselves up to ‘show out’ and ‘hold their own’ against other women rather than to impress new or prospective partners. In addition, contrary to the implication of the adverts, many ‘conventional’ beauties are not appealing to men. Men actually have different tastes, so the notion of conventional beauty is tenuous. Note: all you Alex Kingston look-alikes can email me ;-)). I don’t see any of this communicated in the messaging.
Finally if you are going to have an integrated marketing campaign, for pity’s sake think the execution through. Guerilla activity on the London Underground posters for the Campaign for Real Beauty has shown at least some of the consumers disagree with Dove’s concept of real beauty. Check out Spin Bunny’s Mings of a Dove posting here and Dove’s report developed by StrategyOne: a research company owned by global PR conglomerate Edelman here.