More powerful than you think

“More beautiful than you think” is the final message displayed in the new Dove campaign. A strong statement but my feelings towards this campaign have been bothering me all day.  Not because it’s particularly controversial, but because when I first saw it, I thought it was well done and I fell for the sentiment, the story. But the more I think about message and who’s putting it out there, the more irritated I am that it got to me.

We all know advertisement campaigns are clever and are very good at targeting their audience, and this one is no different. The new Dove campaign for real beauty is well-done and captivating, but as I was watching it, I couldn’t help but feel unsettled, tricked – though I also agreed with parts of their message. It’s a message I wanted to hear.

Beauty campaigns have such a great influence on the way women view themselves and how they are viewed in society. Eating disorders and self-esteem issues continue to be relevant health concerns for women.  So what is Dove doing wrong? Perhaps this is a positive step for the beauty industry?

The Dove campaign focuses on ‘real beauty and this video continues this messaging with a touching, well-done story.  Women should value their own beauty more, as they are more beautiful than they realize. But as a producer of beauty products, Dove has their own agenda.

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Dove has portrayed themselves as alternative cosmetic company, emphasizing real beauty, yet, as pointed out by Elizabeth Plank from the Policy Mic (http://www.policymic.com/articles/35593/can-this-new-dove-campaign-make-you-believe-you-re-more-beautiful-than-you-think), Dove is owned by Unilever, which also owns Axe. Axe advertisements are terribly degrading and sexist. If Dove was truly about real beauty, would they agree to be tied to a company such as Axe?

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There are many other concerns one can raise about the campaign, as is well done by  this blogger:  http://jazzylittledrops.tumblr.com/post/48118645174/why-doves-real-beauty-sketches-video-makes-me

In particular, her discussion on what is seen as beautiful in the campaign is still focused on a very narrow version of beautiful – blue eyes, thin face, small chin.  What about the many other shapes, colors, sizes that exist that are beautiful in their own right?

BUT perhaps what bothers me about it most is that Dove continues to spread the message that beauty, however we define it, is still one of the most important characteristics a woman should have. But hey, they’re a cosmetic company, what can we expect!

“Dove was right about one thing: you are more beautiful than you know. But please, please hear me: you are so, so much more than beautiful.” (http://jazzylittledrops.tumblr.com/post/48118645174/why-doves-real-beauty-sketches-video-makes-me)

So what can I learn from this effectively irritating campaign?  To remain critical and to examine my reaction to campaigns like this to understand why they worked for me and why they didn’t. The Dove campaign has been very successful, they’ve targeted female insecurities in a whole new way, which speak to me, but the continual focus on the importance of beauty remains.

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2 responses to “More powerful than you think”

  1. Jane Popowich says :

    Thank-you for your perspective on this latest Dove campaign. Advertising is very clever in how they use language and I would agree that the language used here is tricky. I wish I had more time to do a close reading of every word used in the Dove Real Beauty Sketches but you are right to question what is being said, portrayed and what is not said. I don’t have the time to look at the other videos at this time. Thanks for alerting me to the connection of Dove to the Axe products and advertising. I feel that information sharing is critical to the possibilities of affecting change. I had started a ban of Dove products (unfortunately I seemed to have gravitated back to a couple of their products which I will change next time I go shopping) when they had their communications campaign targeting women and aging using photography by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz. I kept questioning why do women have to get naked or hang about in their underwear to be taken seriously?

    • juditheye says :

      Thanks for the feed back Jane! And I agree with you regarding the focus on even the well done nude/underwear images! Why is beauty associated with underwear shots in the first place? Why are women consistently portrayed in this manner? It can be hard to avoid these campaigns, nor is it always easy to stop using all products that use these promotional tactics, but I think evaluating campaigns like this carefully and critically is a good step and can allow us to make consumer choices we feel better about. And, as is evident right here, opens up a conversation and dialogue about the messaging that companies use to sell their product.

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