Dove’s Real Beauty – Is It Too Real?

Dove_adI promised you I was going to say something positive about an ad campaign targeted at women. And following the fine example set by my Dad, who I lost recently, I always keep my promises.


By now you’ve all heard about Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty”. I just read a fantastic article on the campaign by Seth Stevenson at Slate.


Seth brings up several interesting points and it’s fascinating to get an honest opinion from the male point of view. Plus, it’s worth the read just to increase your vocabulary. “Brobdingnagian” – intense or enormous. And my new favorite word – “Bedonkadonk” – you won’t find this one in – but say it out loud 3 times and read it in context and I think you can figure it out.


Seth makes the following conclusions:

Short-Term Grade: A. These ads are real attention getters—everyone’s talking about them. On that level, they’re a smashing success. Also, Dove now owns the "friend of the everywoman" angle. Smart move on their part to spot this open niche and grab it. Finally, if I can get sappy for a moment, it is sort of nice to see the unperfect have their day in the sun.

Overall Grade: D. Sadly, this is not a winning play for the long haul. If Dove keeps running ads like this, women will get bored with the feel-good, politically correct message. Eventually (though perhaps only subconsciously), they’ll come to think of Dove as the brand for fat girls. Talk about "real beauty" all you want—once you’re the brand for fat girls, you’re toast..

Let me just say – don’t take the “brand for fat girls” as being too nasty – you have to read the full article and take it in context. That said – do you agree or disagree with his conclusions? I’m going to do some more thinking and research before I form a definite opinion.

On the website – I DO have some opinions

Dove is doing a lot of things right here. Women like to see themselves in ads. As Dove points out – “Models weigh an average of 23 percent less than the average woman. Twenty years ago, models weighed an average of 8 percent less." Dove’s models are a more accurate representation of what we look like.


The website has a wonderful look and feel. Some might say they have too much use of white space, but all that white actually ads to the feel of “clean”.


Links like “We’re listening” speak to women’s absolute love of “being heard”.


And the Dove Self-Esteem Fund is nothing short of brilliant.


However, there are some problems with the website – namely Download Time – 33.25 seconds with a 56K modem for the home page. All those images and external multi-media are making the site extremely slow to load. Slow load times are a major pet peeve for women when it comes to websites.


Dove_call_to_action_on_homepageAnother problem with the home page is the call to action in the active window. The strongest call to action is “search”, but what are you supposed to be searching for? Is that really the number one action you want visitors to take on the site? They do a better job with interior pages like Real Beauty.


So – is all this going to sell more products? David Wolfe at Ageless Marketing has some opinions on the campaign and some actual sales figures.  I will say that when I was in the store the other day – I looked at Dove for the first time. They did succeed in making it onto my radar screen. And that’s a huge first step.











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10 Responses to Dove’s Real Beauty – Is It Too Real?

  1. I tend to agree with you and Seth on the Real Beauty campaign, Holly – but, I also must admit that I am one of the many who has blogged positively about this recent Dove effort in the past. I had not, however, considered the long term effects, as Seth does.. and you are right, it is fascinating to get a guy’s take on it. (Thanks also for your great analysis of the Real Beauty site too.)
    The campaign is a “fresh” approach, for sure, and so.. just shaking things up a bit, especially in the beauty-conscious skincare business – and getting other brands to consider the possibilities in marketing to women is certainly good, in and of itself.
    But, will both women and men start to perceive Dove as the “fat girl’s brand”…? I’m not sure. But maybe Seth’s thoughts will we inspire us to think a bit more about how the women’s market may well be influenced by what the men in their lives think of the brands they choose/that will sit on their bathroom counters. I think this may be especially the case with the younger generation of women.

  2. Mary Schmidt says:

    Excellent points. I personally like the ads (including the clean look you noted)…however, from the longer-term perspective re “fat girls”…hmmm…Sure, most American women aren’t waifs but do we really see ourselves as we are? In most cases, I’d say no. Otherwise, why would we see so many people wearing skin-tight low rider jeans that look – well – terrible (and terribly uncomfortable?) Fine line in holding up the mirror to show what we think we are – versus what the reality is.

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    Dove’s Real Beauty – Is It Too Real?

  10. Dove “real beauty” campaign is a classical case of insight-driven ad that explored how a brand can address a contradiction in order to establish meaning and trigger affinity.
    I have always believed that a brand is a product which has earned a place in consumers’ lives by “massaging” consumers’ ego or sense of self until a mental relationship is built.
    Douglas Holt captured it better in “How brands become icon” where he advocated that brands must deliver beliefs that the consumers can use to manage the exigencies of a world that increasingly threatens their identities. Brands must become a cultural activist and a social authority
    “Exploiting” the research fact that ONLY 2% of women worldwide considered themselves beautiful is a great way to become the champion of the remaining 98% using a compelling philosophy that “Real beauty come from within
    Great work of all times

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