One of the most significant achievements of Dove as a brand is that it has initiated a global conversation around the traditional concept of beauty. The main target is the unrealistic portrayal of beauty. Dove sought to turn on its head the whole advertising culture that propagated these beauty stereotypes by electing to work with women whose appearances strayed far from the stereotypical norms of beauty.
Since 2004, all of Dove’s advertisements for its personal care range of products have aimed at arousing women’s emotions against stereotypical notions of beauty. Their ads tend to feature everyday women of varying ages and body types.
The 2004 “Campaign for Real Beauty” was the result of a survey that encompassed over 3000 women across ten countries. It was sponsored by Dove’s parent company, Unilever. The results were startling, to say the least. Only 2% of the women polled considered themselves beautiful.
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The Dove brand story and its advertising strategy are as strong as ever and are a thing of beauty in itself. It continues to garner attention with every successive installment and modification it undertakes. Until then, the Dove brand was associated with their rather lacklustre product, the Beauty Bar. With the poll results, they sensed an opportunity to reframe the discussion around what constituted an attractive woman. The results of Dove’s campaign were on expected lines, and it has been a popular one with female consumers.
The Dove brand story saw success with its effective emotive appeal to female consumers in their attempt at challenging beauty norms. However, the downside with Dove’s marketing strategy embraces the same idea that advertisers have relied on for decades, that a woman’s appearance is the most important thing.
While Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” was both an eye-opening and conversation-generating phenomenon, it has not met with the universal acclaim it perhaps hoped for. Many critics have long highlighted the disconnect between the Dove brand story’s ad campaign and the promotion of products such as the Fair & Lovely skin-whitening cream by the parent company, Unilever.
Products such as these would not exist if women as a demographic actually subscribed to the campaign’s core principles.
Well over a decade after its inception, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is still making its presence felt. Despite its shortcomings and the criticisms it faces, the campaign can be taken as a positive step forward. The advertisement campaign by Dove generated a lot of debate, both positive and negative, over its implied message. However, the Dove brand story’s purpose was to encourage a global discussion on the image of a woman’s body met with admirable success. The message that the Dove brand story wishes to put out remains relevant, even as a multitude of young women evaluate their own preconceived notions of female beauty. For the most part, Dove has been on point with its well-planned marketing campaigns for challenging the existing stereotypes of a woman’s appearance.