Public Relations Problems and Cases: The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty australië ugg

Public Relations Problems and Cases

This Blog spotlights recent public relations cases studies selected by PR students in Comm 473: PR Campaigns in the College of Communications at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa., that demonstrate the value of public relations across a variety of service areas and industries.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty
Case Study by Olivia Falcione and Laura Henderson

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was started after Dove conducted a global study on beauty. The study called, The Real Truth About Beauty: A World Report confirmed a hypothesis that the definition for beauty had narrowed and impossible to attain. Dove found that:
§ Just 12 % of women are very satisfied with their physical attractiveness
§ Only 2 % of women describe themselves as beautiful
§ 68 % strongly agree that the media sets an unrealistic standard of beauty
§ 75 % wish the media did a better job in portraying the diversity of women's physical attractiveness, including size and shape, across all ages

When the economy has a downturn women stop shopping, but for higher end items such as shoes and purses, not beauty items. Marketing in the beauty industry is mainly geared toward women for good reason. Women compose over 50 percent of the United States population and they influence or buy 80 percent of products sold. These are influential numbers for any company.

Dove is the number one cleansing brand and is growing at more than 25 percent yearly. They are doing a sixth-month rollout of their hair care line. Unilever prides itself on advertising, announcing in 2002 a multi-million dollar advertising alliance with AOL Time Warner. Unilever expanded a co-marketing deal with Bally’s Total Fitness that makes Dove the exclusive sponsor and provider of personal hygiene products at almost 400 Bally’s fitness centers across the U.S and Canada. It is a crowded market and Dove wanted to separate themselves from the other companies and brands to generate higher sales.
Unilevers’ competitors include Proctor and Gamble, Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Avon and others. All of these companies are experiencing growth and healthy sales. Proctor and Gamble is strengthening their leadership in Health Care and Beauty, two of 2003’s largest growing sectors. Proctor and Gamble has 5 billion dollar health care and beauty brands and they acquired a sixth in 2003. Meaning health care and beauty sales will account for half of the company’s sales and profits. In 2002, P&G reported net sales were $10.80 billion, up 11 percent versus 2001 sales.
Estee Lauder has recorded more than 45 consecutive years of annual sales increases. Estee Lauder’s net sales of all products sold in 130 countries reached $5.12 billion in 2003 this includes all labels-Estee Lauder, Clinique, Origins, Prescriptives and Aramis.
L’Oreal is the world’s largest beauty products company. In the past ten years the brand has shifted from 75 percent of sales in Europe to exporting brands around the world. Sales through June 2002 were €7.4 billion up from the first half of 2001 with €4 billion in consumer products and €1.8 billion in luxury products. L’Oreal aims for its 18th consecutive year of double-digit growth year-end 2002.
Avon is the world’s largest direct seller and sixth largest global beauty company with $6 billion in annual sales. Avon sells to women in 143 countries through 3.5 million independent sales representatives. Net sales have increased by 4 percent from 1997 to 2001 and this is expected to continue into 2003. Avon is starting a new line for younger consumers “mark”. It will launch in the fall of 2003 in the U.S. and in the second quarter of 2004 globally.
Beauty companies are doing well leading up to Dove’s launch of its Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004. The number of women in the United States and the influence they have on purchasing products make them the primary audience for consumer companies like Unilever to market towards. This combined with the results of women’s issues with the media’s portrayal of women create and ideal stage to launch a campaign focused on real women.

For years, the beauty industry and media have been constantly reminding women of the ideal body standards that have been set in today’s society. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, launched in 2004, was to support Dove’s mission of making women of all shapes and sizes feel beautiful every day, while widening stereotypical views of beauty. The campaign was inspired by a global study called “The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report.” As a company within the beauty industry, Dove wanted to have a better understanding of the issues regarding women and beauty by developing this study. Dove asked Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Harvard University professor and author of “Survival of the Prettiest,” and Dr. Susie Orbach, London School of Economics, visiting professor and author of “Fat is a Feminist Issue,” to help develop this global report. The study used quantitative data collected from an international study of 3,200 women from ten different countries between February 27, 2004 and March 26, 2004. Through the study, Dove aimed to explore the relationship women have with beauty, determine how women define beauty, learn the level of satisfaction with women’s beauty and the impact beauty has on the well-being of women. Through two key findings of the study, Dove was able to validate that the narrow definition of beauty is having a significant impact on the self-esteem of women today. The two findings are:
· Only 2% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful
· 81% of women in the United States strongly agree that “the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women can’t ever achieve.”
In addition to these statistics, the study uncovered that only 5% of the women felt comfortable describing themselves as pretty and 9% felt comfortable describing themselves as attractive. When it came to body image and weight, women from all countries proved to be unsatisfied with themselves. The women of Japan had the highest levels of dissatisfaction with their body weight at 59%, followed by Brazil (37%), United Kingdom (36%), United States (36%), Argentina (27%) and the Netherlands (25%).
The study asked women about a wide range of issues regarding the mass media and pop culture. From all countries, cultures, ages, ethnicities and race, the women felt that there is a narrow definition of beauty. Specifically within today’s society, women acknowledged how they felt more pressure from the beauty standards set by the present mass media. Sixty-three percent strongly agreed that women today are expected to be more attractive than their mother’s generation.
The women surveyed believed that they are surrounded by unrealistic beauty images that are unattainable. The majority (76%) wished female beauty would be portrayed in the media as being made up more than just physical attractiveness. Also, seventy-five percent wished the media did a better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness, including age, shape and size.
Based on these findings, Dove created The Campaign for Real Beauty to address the issues that were revealed in the study. Since the campaign has been launched, Dove has conducted numerous global and national studies. In 2005, Dove conducted the study, “Beyond Stereotypes: Rebuilding the Foundation of Beauty Beliefs.” This study collected information from 3,300 girls and women, between the ages of 15-64 from 10 different countries. This study was designed to explore self-esteem and the impact of beauty standards on both the lives of girls and women. The study showed that of the women and girls surveyed, 90% wanted to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance (with body weight ranking the highest). In addition, Dove found that 67% of all women withdrew from life-engaging activities due to feeling badly about their looks.
In 2006, Dove conducted the global report “Beauty Comes of Age.” The study surveyed a total of 1,450 women, aged 50-64, from 9 different countries. This report was done to help reveal the stereotypes associated with beauty and aging. Dove found that 91% of the women surveyed felt that the media and advertising need to do a better job of representing realistic images of women over 50. A vast majority of the women (97%) believed that society is less accepting of appearance considerations for women over 50 compared to their younger counterparts, especially when focused on the body.
In 2008, Dove commissioned the national report, “Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem.” Girls ages 8-17 were surveyed and were asked questions based on the three areas of self-acceptance, confidence and emotional orientation. Scores were assigned based on how the girls rated themselves in the three areas. Girls were classified into three groups of high, average and low self-esteem, based on their individual scores. The report exposed that in the United States, seven in ten girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, academic performance and relationships with family and friends and 62% of all girls feel insecure or not sure of themselves. In comparing girls’ level of self esteem and their feelings on their own beauty, 71% of girls with low self-esteem felt their appearance did not measure up, including not feeling pretty enough, thin enough or stylish or trendy enough. This was compared to 29% of girls with high self-esteem.

Dove created The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty to help start a societal change and an expansion of the definition and discussion of beauty. The campaign supports Dove’s mission “to make more women feel beautiful everyday by widening stereotypical views of beauty.” The campaign uses advertising, a Web site, billboards, events, workshops, viral marketing and a Self-Esteem fund in Dove’s effort to create a global discussion about beauty with women all over the world. Rather than using professional models, the campaign stands by Dove’s mission in using “real” women of various ages, shapes and sizes to promote discussion and debate about the narrow beauty standards and images set in today’s society.

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was communicated to the public through a variety of print and television advertisements, a Web site, workshops and films. The campaign that launched in September 2004 began with an advertising campaign that featured women whose appearance strayed from the stereotypical beauty standards that are commonly seen in the media. Dove wanted to get “real” feedback by having the ads ask viewers to judge the women’s appearances. Viewers were asked to cast their votes on Dove’s Web site, The second phase of the campaign launched in June 2005 was print and outdoor advertisements that featured six everyday women who had real bodies and real curves. This phase was created to challenge the ideal body type standards set by the media. In February 2007, the third phase of the campaign was introduced with Dove using advertisements that targeted women 50 years and older. Annie Leibovitz, a world renowned photographer, was the artist behind the print and television advertisements, which celebrated the beauty in older women. Currently, the campaign focuses on young girls and self-esteem. For this part of the campaign Dove created self-esteem workshops and online self-esteem tools for mothers and daughters. In addition, Dove has created online films such as “Evolution,” “Onslaught” and “True Colors” which was a highly regarded commercial during the 2006 Super Bowl. Many of the tools used for the campaign are funded by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund. In the US, the fund supports Uniquely ME!, a program of the Girl Scouts of the United States, which aims to build confidence and self-esteem in young girls.

The campaign launched in England in September 2004. The Dove campaign was inspired by the study “The Real Truth about Beauty: A Global Report.” According to the Campaign for Real Beauty Mission, “the study validated the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable.” The study showed that the narrow beauty standards were having a significant impact on the self-esteem of women. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was created to address this issue by attempting to widen the definition of beauty.

The results of this campaign were overwhelming from the consumers and the media. The goal was to reach 5 million young people with the Self-Esteem Fund by 2010 and according to their Web site, they have reached 2 million already.
The campaign returned $3 for every $1 spent. Dove’s page on Unilever’s Web site says that the current campaign has been shown on over 25 major TV channels and in more than 800 articles in opinion leading newspapers as well as in popular women’s magazines. In the first six months of the campaign, sales of Dove’s firming products increased 700 percent in Europe and in the United States, sales for the products in the advertisements increased 600 percent in the first two months of the campaign. In 2004, the first year of the campaign, global sales surpassed $1 billion, exceeding company expectations.
Dove’s public relations company built in news coverage for Asia with the Dove “models” appearing in 618 different newspaper clippings with a circulation of 139 million. By the end of 2005, sales in the Asian-Pacific market increased from 19 percent to 26 percent.
In the United States, the campaign got free advertising space from media coverage on national television shows reaching 30 million daytime television viewers. These shows included The Oprah Winfrey Show, which included the campaign everyday for a week, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show, The View and CNN.
“Evolution” the viral video and the most famous execution of the campaign to date had global impact. The viral has been viewed more than 15 million times online and seen by more than 300 million people globally in various channels of distribution, including news coverage, by the estimation of Ogilvy Chairman-CEO Shelly Lazarus.
Dove and Ogilvy have won awards for this campaign. These include the two Grand Prix Cannes Advertising Awards in 2007. This is an unprecedented number of awards to win. “Evolution” the viral won Film Grand Prix and a Cyber Grand Prix. Dove won a silver IPA for effectiveness with the campaign. In 2006 it was awarded a Grand EFFIE, which honors the most significant achievement in marketing communications effectiveness.


In the News- Campaign for Real Beauty
From Ogilvy:

Other Sources:
Ad$pender database
Media Awareness Network- Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty
My Black is Beautiful Campaign
Nike campaign Posted by Giulia Carando at 7:26 PM 293 comments: 1 – 200 of 293   Newer›   Newest» PSU PR Student said...

Christi Pluta When I first saw the real beauty campaign, I was so happy. We, as women, are bombarded with beauty products, weight loss programs, cosmetic surgery, reality television shows with sexy women and magazines telling us what is considered beautiful. I was SO incredibly happy to see such a well-known and well-established company stepping up and telling the world that beauty doesn't just come in a size 3. It is all shapes and sizes. Being a puerto rican, I felt like the media was on my side for once, saying that curves and freckles are just as beautiful, if not more than the "stereotypical beauty." Especially, being surrounded by females on a college campus that will work out all day and not eat just so they can consume calories on the weekend, it was nice to hear something different for a change. After that campaign began, when I went to the store. I DID BUY DOVE PRODUCTS. I wanted to support a company that had the same ideals that I did. I thought that was important. As a result, I contributed to their 600% earnings and I was proud of it. However, I think that Dove may have done this campaign just to make a profit. Unilever, the creators of the Dove brand, also make Axe, bodyspray for men. Their commercials portray women as sex objects. These women are not of all shapes and sizes. They are tall and lean and look just like models. It kind of made me angry when i learned of this. It made me think of Dove differently. They weren't trying to make a change in the media. If they were, why would they create sexist commercials like they do for Axe? My question is, did Dove respond to this? What did they say? Lastly, I was surprised to see that American women did not have one of the highest dissatisfaction levels of their body weight. In a media possessed industry focusing on beauty, why was this so low? What made Japan, Brazil and the UK so high?

March 1, 2009 at 9:48 PM PSU PR Student said...

Lauren Rothbardt I find the real beauty campaign quite refreshing. While most marketing tactics by beauty companies attempt to make you feel as though you need their products to feel good about yourself, Dove tried to make you feel good in your own skin. However, while the campaign has seen great success, there has been some negative reactions to it. According to the National Organization for Women, "While some people love the campaign, others think it doesn't go far enough in challenging the status quo, and some feel that the ads still rely too heavily on using sex to sell. However, the bottom line is that Dove and Collins have succeeded at getting people to talk about body image and the meaning of beauty." I agree that this one campaign is not enough to change the advertising industry, but at least it is one step in the right direction. All beauty companies should aim to do good work that also makes their audience feel good about themselves.

March 2, 2009 at 11:46 AM allison said...

Allison Kershner The Dove campaign for Real Beauty has done a great job of creating attention for its brand. When women are bombarded with advertisements for products which claim to make them beautiful day-in and day-out, a brand needs to do something unique in order to stand out from the pack. According to an article written by Seth Stevenson in an article published in Slate ( the ads receive a short-term grade of “A”. He says that the ads grabbed viewers attention and helped Dove to get a “friend of the everywoman” angel. However, the Dove campaign has been criticized because it is a subsidiary of Unilever, which markets Fair and Lovely, a skin lightening product targeted at dark-skinned women. This product contradicts the image that Dove is trying to promote with its Self-Esteem Fund and real women models. Also, in May 2008, it was exposed in the New Yorker that a photo advertisement from the campaign was digitally manipulated by Pascal Dangin. Dagin is quoted saying, ““Do you know how much retouching was on that?” He asked. “But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.” This mistake created negative publicity for the campaign and people began to see the ads as fake. ( A lesson that can be learned from the Dove Real Beauty campaign is that it is important to market your client and their products in a way that stands out from the pack. But it is even more important to do it ethically. A campaign must never lie to its target audience. When Dove promised that its advertisements had never been touched-up, they should have kept their word.

March 2, 2009 at 4:23 PM Katherine said... This comment has been removed by the author. March 2, 2009 at 5:20 PM Katherine said...

Katherine Matz Just like most advertising campaigns, I feel Dove has its good and bad points. Many women feel that the ads were effective because they portrayed “real” women. In reality, they did show women that look different than in most ads, but that is the reason Dove’s ads stood out; they were unique. From a marketing stand point, Dove did an unbelievable job in selling its brand and products. Through the use of marketing research, Dove found that 91% of the women surveyed felt that the media and advertising need to do a better job of representing realistic images of women over 50. Dove used this statistic to create an effective campaign. Ultimately, the message behind Dove’s campaign is positive. It challenges false perceptions of beauty and seeks to help women with self-esteem issues. The campaign probably has had a positive effect on the self-esteem of women all over the world. However, people only see what they are given and have the tendency to ignore what’s below the surface. It was revealed that even the “real” women in the ads were retouched. Also, many people may be supporting Dove, but they are unaware that it is owned by Unilever, who is responsible for the scandalous Axe body spray ads where women are portrayed as sex objects. In the introduction of this case study it was even noted that, “Unilever prides itself on advertising, announcing in 2002 a multi-million dollar advertising alliance with AOL Time Warner.” After reviewing all of the case studies so far, it has come to my attention to be wary of campaigns run by for-profit organizations and corporations. After seeing the campaign, women all over the world believe in the positive aspects Dove’s message. Maybe that’s what Dove was going for, but the authors of the case study informed that initially, “it was a crowded market and Dove wanted to separate itself from the other companies and brands to generate higher sales.” While there may be some good in the messages, it is important to know the ultimate motive behind them.

March 2, 2009 at 5:22 PM PSU PR Student said...

Brandon Bernola First of all, these numbers are absolutely ridiculous. 2% of women describe themselves as beautiful. What’s that all about? Women are too hard on themselves. I always hear women say that they don’t dress up and get all pretty to impress guys; they do it to impress girls. This is one reason why I will never truly understand women. I think if women actually cared what guys thought instead of other girls, this world would be a lot less hostile. Guys think girls are beautiful no matter what they do. For instance, I think my girlfriend is prettiest when she first wakes up in the morning. It may sound like I’m joking, but it’s true. And when I tell her that’s when I think she is the prettiest, she get all upset and says, “So I put on make-up and get dressed all nice and try so hard and you think I’m prettiest in the morning? You’re such an asshole Brandon!” However, what she doesn’t realize is that she does all of that stuff for other girls. I could care less if she had a Prada purse or a pair of UGG boots, but it’s pointless to argue about it. Also, the pressure that women receive to look pretty from TV and magazines is ridiculous. They compare themselves to the most beautiful people in the world. It isn’t fair for them because it hurts their feelings and it isn’t fair to guys because it makes the girls all crazy. It is a lose lose situation and I don’t think it is ending any time soon. I found a new study that has now revealed moderately heavy women are more likely to lower the onlooker’s self esteem, contrary to the existing assumption. Looking at thin models has in fact been found to raise a woman’s self esteem. The results of this interesting study can be found in the Journal of Consumer Research. I don’t know how much I believe this study, but I thought it would be interesting to throw in here. However, I really liked this Dove campaign. We looked into in my COMM 205 and I think it is a pretty good idea. Women need to feel good about themselves the way they are and not try to impress anyone. I know that is easier said than done, but I mean it.

March 3, 2009 at 8:58 AM Sara Oxfeld said... This comment has been removed by a blog administrator. March 3, 2009 at 11:26 AM PSU PR Student said...

Sara Oxfeld A new New Yorker story about Pascal Dangin, the world's "premier retoucher of fashion photographs," contains this tidbit on Dove's campaign, which ostensibly celebrates authentic, unadulterated womanhood: "It is known that everybody does it, but they protest," Dangin said recently. "The people who complain about retouching are the first to say, 'Get this thing off my arm.' " I mentioned the Dove ad campaign that proudly featured lumpier-than-usual "real women" in their undergarments. It turned out that it was a Dangin job. "Do you know how much retouching was on that?" he asked. "But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone's skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive." This is something I found interesting when I was researching after I read the case study. I am someone who is definitely influenced by what celebrities eat, drink, and wear as is a large majority of women in today's society. After seeing the DOVE campaign, i applauded their efforts to display real women. However, it was interesting that while these women were larger than the average size celebrity they had no cellulite, no large imperfections. It makes me think that these women had to have been photoshopped. While these women may have in fact be photoshopped...the idea behind the campaign made me go out and buy their products. it makes me wonder, was this there intention or did they really just want to empower women.

March 3, 2009 at 11:28 AM PSU PR Student said...

Melanie Loomis It’s impressive that a beauty company such as Dove took the initiative to change societal views towards beauty. As a sophomore, I took an anthropology class and for a large portion of it we studied why beauty trends happen. A lot of time, a society views beauty based on economic standards. In the 1950’s, it was an era coming out of war and food rations. The “Marilyn Monroe” body type (her dress size ranged from a 12-16; deemed fat in today’s society) was viewed as desirable because it showed she had money to buy food. Also, being tan during that era for whites labeled someone as poor because it meant they had to work outdoors in the lower to middle class. Clearly- standards have changed and economics still play a role in why generations view beauty different. Today- tanning among the white population is seen as a luxury because of the current economic condition. Coming off of such economically prosperous years in the 1990’s and plunging into a recession could dramatically change the image of skinny into a person who can’t afford food and is not desirable. In prior years, skinny has been a sign of being able to afford gym memberships and high quality nutritious foods. The body size image is starting to change and I wonder whether it has to do with these beauty industry funded campaigns as a foresight into economic times like this or the campaign itself. A great radio clip to listen to regarding this anthropology viewpoint linking beauty to economics is linked below: (click on Stephen Dubner’s “Beauty Premium” ½ way down the page)

March 3, 2009 at 1:44 PM Kelly McNulty said...

Kelly McNulty I originally liked the angle Dove took on their advertising campaign, and I thought it was really refreshing to see "real" women being portrayed as opposed to models, who most women can't relate to. Like Seth Stevenson wrote in his 2005 article, "hen tush comes to Dove", "Beauty-product marketing has almost always been aspirational: I wish I could look like her … perhaps if I buy this lip gloss, I will! But Dove takes a wildly different approach: That chick in the ad sort of looks like me, and yet she seems really happy and confident … perhaps if I buy this Dove Firming Cream, I'll stop hating myself!" He also made the point that buying Dove products was like casting the vote for curves in advertising. And although women may not dislike themselves and think that Dove products will completely change them, Stevenson did make the point that the campaign does still play on women's insecurities. No, these women may not be stick thin, but they also don't have any cellulite either, so they still don't look like "real" women. I don't know one woman who doesn't have at least a little cellulite, myself included, but you don't see that advertised in the Dove campaign. Ultimately, I think it was great to see different types of women portrayed in the Dove ads, but I don't necessarily think these were "real" women either, and I think their campaign was a smart way to reach out to actual real women in the world and sell a product.

March 3, 2009 at 2:47 PM PSU PR Student said...

Brian Heenan First off, as a guy, I obviously have not been exposed to the Dove Beauty campaign as much as women have. Dove obviously targeted women and women's media outlets such as women's magazines, women's stores and advertising on primarily women-viewed TV programs. But like Brandon mentioned, I was shocked to read that only 2% of the women surveyed would consider themselves as beautiful. That is a horrible statistic and it says something about women, as well as how the media portrays them. I think women, without the help from the media, are already way too critical of themselves and their peers. I grew up with two older sisters who stared at themselves and each other in the mirror for hours. No matter what, there was always something wrong. And now, I have to deal with my girlfriend who is even worse than my sisters were. Which makes me wonder if women look in different mirrors than men do? Because I can see the beauty in women all around me, but it seems that they can’t see it at all. But I don’t think women are solely to blame. The media obviously plays a huge role in telling these women what beauty actually is. The standards they set are unreachable. Their definition of beauty is way too specific and narrow. If you’re not tall, skinny, and tan, with great hair, beautiful skin and a sparkling smile…you’re not beautiful in the media’s eyes. Which is why Dove’s Beauty campaign was such a wonderful idea. The goal to make women feel beautiful and boost their self-esteem was necessary in changing societies unrealistic beauty images. The successful campaign has widened beauty’s definition and the 2% of women who felt they were beautiful has certainly seen an increase, and rightfully so. So I hope this trend continues and women can start looking in the same mirror that us men look at.

March 3, 2009 at 4:35 PM PSU PR Student said...

Shin Yoshida I knew about the Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign from one of my job application essays that I wrote before. In the essay, I mentioned about the controversy between the Dove and Axe products, which are both made from the same company, Unilever. While Dove aimed for women’s support, Axe was targeted to young men who are seeking a “mating game.” The famous commercials featuring sexually appealing girls rushing eagerly towards a man, who sprays Axe, became a phenomenon in the ad world. The public who viewed the Axe commercials were implemented with a strong image that Axe products would attract the girls irresistibly. At the same time, it created a public image that portrayed women appearing in the Axe commercials as “sexual objects.” ( The campaign for Axe, like the Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign, was suited perfectly for a certain public audience. However, the problem arose when the public realized that both products were created under the same company. While Dove continued to implement the Campaign for Real Beauty, Axe’s campaign caused disgruntlement by sending an opposite message to the public. I believe that Unilever was able to commit their corporate social responsibility by launching the Real Beauty Campaign. But in the end, it all comes down to the question of whether they were able to increase the sales of Dove beauty products. Since both Dove and Axe are aiming for different target publics, it is inevitable that one side could create a controversial message to the other side. In the case of Axe, the product wasn’t telling the women to become sexually attractive like how they appeared in the commercial. Its main purpose was to provide young men self-esteem by having confidence to interact with women. In my opinion, since both brands are sharing the same value of “self-esteem,” it is important to show respect to each other in their campaign. While Dove gained wide support from their Real Beauty Campaign, Axe should have emphasized “self-esteem” as part of their value in the campaign. Rather than showing sexually appealing women in the commercials, it is preferable if they can add contents that could portray young men’s self-reliance to women at the same time. In this way, both brands could maintain different messages and have mutual value in their campaign at the same time.

March 3, 2009 at 4:55 PM Han said...

In a transfigured world where unattainable anorexic silhouettes and wrinkle-free Botox expressions populate our media industry, it is not surprising to hear that some women feel insecure with their image. But, the fact that only 2% of women in our society view themselves as beautiful is truly a disgrace. It just goes to show how materialistic and superficial our modern society has become. After hearing of the efforts of the Dove campaign, I am glad that there is a company out there that has the guts to not only go against the grain of traditional “idealistic” marketing; but more importantly, reach out to its “real” audience. On an ethical note and in my personal opinion, Dove should hands down win a Grammy in the world of corporate social responsibility. Not only have they given women and young girls a boost in self-esteem and pride, but the road to recovery for their confidence has also been ignited. It’s apparent that the campaign has generated much success, increasing sales 700 percent in Europe and in the United States in the first six months. One of the strengths that I’ve noticed about this campaign is Dove’s impeccable approach in researching its target audiences and capitalizing from its results. Since the campaign has been launched, Dove has conducted numerous global and national studies. “The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report,” covered an extensive audience evaluating various viewpoints from 3,200 women in 10 different countries; thus, incorporating the global markets. Understanding your demographics can be essential in creating efficient messages, as demonstrated throughout this campaign. Furthermore, I thought Dove took realistic and effective measures in implementing multiple phases of their campaign, targeting both older women and younger girls who visualize themselves as different from the ideal beauty stereotypes.

March 3, 2009 at 9:44 PM Michael said...

To risk making myself vulnerable: I don't think the fact that Dove is under the same umbrella as Axe really makes any difference in the message that the Dove "Real Beauty" campaign was delivering. I'll admit… it may seem a little hypocritical that Axe is depicting "beauty" in the complete opposite way as Dove. However, I’d argue that it’s just part of human nature to have a schizophrenic persona. Every single one of us has a different face for every situation. Would you stop watching films about romance if you know that those studios also produced pornography under different names? Smut films are cheap and tasteless and make money. Axe is Unilever’s “smut”. If I were working for Dove, I’d want to make sure that whatever photographers are worked with aren’t loose cannons like Pascal Dangin seems to be. Apparently, almost immediately after Dangin’s comments appeared in the New Yorker, Unilever issued a corrective statement. According to an article on, “In a statement from Unilever, Dangin asserts his quote was taken out of context and he did not work on the 2005 Real Women campaign, but only the Pro-Age campaign in 2007, for which he maintained the women's natural beauty. He says he only removed dust and performed color correction.” However, it seems that even if this response is correct, the damage had already been done. The “Real Beauty” campaign will forever be blemished by this claim of airbrushing and computer magic. I am not sure if they’ve already done something like this, but Dove may want to completely re-shoot parts of the Real Beauty campaign or whatever they intend to continue with and make sure that absolutely no “dust removal” or “color correction” is done. Their message is too important to let something like claims of airbrushing discredit it.

March 3, 2009 at 10:01 PM Jess said...

Jess Mikula I think Dove's Real Beauty campaign is brilliant. In a market where companies thrive on telling women what products they need to buy in order to attain the unattainable definition of beauty, this company did the exact opposite. Dove researched the female market and used that research to great advantage. They could have easily played into women's insecurities, but they didn't. This campaign is effective. It is refreshing, new and sticky. By taking the non-traditional approach to the image of beauty, Dove created memorable commercials with which its audience can actually identify. The increase in Dove's sales is an excellent indication of that success. They attracted new customers--myself included--with the new campaign. Obviously this one campaign isn't going to change the concept of beauty throughout the entire advertising industry, but it does show progress. More companies should take a step forward to eliminate stereotypes of body image. And it wouldn't hurt if a super model was a size 10/12, either. Nothing is going to change women's perceptions of beauty until a size 2 isn't the ideal. I know the "real" women were still all retouched before the Dove ads were released, and I'd actually be interested to see the original versions. I saw a feature in a women's magazine (I think it was Cosmo, but I don't read religiously enough to remember) that showed celebrities without makeup. I think this should be done more. Humanize the untouchables, and I guarantee more than 2% of women will consider themselves beautiful.

March 3, 2009 at 11:13 PM Ellen said...

I think that the most interesting aspect of this campaign is how it does not advertise Dove products. No shampoo or lotion or body wash is explicitly featured. It advertises loving the skin your in and loving yourself for who you are. Hopefully this campaign would lead to a "mutual appreciation" between the customer and the company (which hopefully would lead to sales). Fortunately for Dove, this clearly worked. Not only did Dove product sales increase, but people looked upon the company with increased favor. "Dove is the brand that knows me, that gets that I'm not a supermodel, that loves REAL women." I can clearly remember conversations about these ads and the respect that Dove has for women. Unfortunately, as many have said, Unilever's messages are not consistent. Their Dove ads feature women of all shapes and sizes, yet they still sell sex in Axe ads and still sell skin lighteners. A wider exposure of this information might lead to a serious backlash against Dove because its clear that the ads were created to simply move product (which, of course, is natural). Dove appealed to women's vulnerability with issues of weight and positioned themselves as someone who "gets it." If people are made aware that the campaign was purely profit driven, the company that "gets it" is just another scummy company. Just a thought.

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There is a wonderful internet series (five episodes, 10-15 minutes each, beautifully shot) that will debut the end of June 2009. It is a dramedy-soap about the lives, loves and challenges faced by four women at various stages of life (ages range from late twenties to fifties). The series embraces many of the same issues celebrated in Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty”. Check out the promotional trailer at

June 16, 2009 at 7:23 PM Hanna said...

The women’s are too much satisfied with the dove campaign. The dove campaign for real beauty started with image of love handled. natural skin care products

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