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Dove Real Beauty Campaign

Dove Real Beauty Campaign

Changing stereotypes and people's view seems like an insurmountable task. Yet, some manage the impossible by changing the status quo and influencing our society. One of these changes was made by the company Dove, which decided to impact people's self-esteem and how society perceives beauty.

It's no secret that people, particularly women, are highly critical of their perceptive beauty, as they compare it to the unrealistic standards of supermodels in the beauty industry. Dove acted to change that view and convince people that beauty doesn't come from one standard but in many forms and shapes. The company designed a long-term marketing strategy to change beauty stereotypes through its Dove Real Beauty Campaign. In this explanation, we will look closely at the origin of this marketing campaign, analyze some of its successes and failures, and finally see the results they have achieved today.

Dove Real Beauty Campaign Objectives

To put this marketing campaign into perspective, let's first talk about the origin of Dove. Dove was a soap bar company established in 1957 in the US. From the beginning, Dove was different from its competitor as it sold soaps that cleaned but also cleansed the skin.1

Their competitive advantage was that their soap was much better for the skin as it made it softer and smoother while cleaning it, in contrast to their competitors' soap which attacked the skin to clean it. As a result, their product's popularity grew, and Dove already established the foundation of a company that thinks differently and cares for its customers.

The shift for Dove started in 2004 when they published a study they ordered from StrategyOne, a research firm based in New York: "The real truth about beauty: a global report."2 With this study, Dove wanted to explore what beauty means to women and its reasoning. The study was conducted through a phone survey and interviewed 3,200 women aged 18 to 64 across ten countries. Following this study, Dove found that:

  • Only 2% of women call themselves "beautiful."

  • 72% find their beauty "average."

  • 68% strongly agreed that "the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women can't ever achieve."

  • 75% wished that "the media did a better job portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness – shape, and size."

Those were dreadful statistics, and this survey caused a dramatic shift in Dove's mission and marketing strategy. Dove wanted to change this status quo and create a beauty campaign to empower women's self-esteem by helping them feel more beautiful and changing the narrow view of what is considered beautiful by our society. So, in 2004, Dove launched its campaign for real beauty and founded the self-esteem project.

We believe beauty should be a source of confidence, and not anxiety. That's why we are here to help women everywhere develop a positive relationship with the way they look, helping them raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential.3

Dove Real Beauty Campaign clean and smooth skin StudySmarterFig. 1 - Clean and smooth skin

Dove Real Beauty Campaign Analysis

Dove's real beauty campaign is neither short-term nor a one-time shot strategy. Instead, as it takes a lot of time and effort to change people's views, Dove adopted a long-term plan and implemented many marketing campaigns to create a narrative and build its brand over the years. As such, the credit for Dove's marketing campaign cannot be given to one person or only one institution but is the result of years of work from several marketers, researchers, and universities.

Dove Real Beauty Campaign: Real Women. Real Beauty

Dove's real beauty marketing campaign is an ongoing journey that started in 2004. At that time, beauty ads only showcased supermodels and modified pictures to glorify only one type of beauty. In partnership with the ad agency Ogilvy, Dove launched its first campaign by showing photographs of people on billboards who were not supermodels from beauty ads but regular people of all ages, shapes, and sizes.4 These billboards were accompanied by a statement giving two choices to the people and inviting them to join the beauty debate :

  • "44 and hot? Or 44 and not? Can women be hotter at 44 than 20?"

  • "Flat or Flattering? Can you be sexy without being busty?"

  • "Fat or Fit? Does true beauty only squeeze into size 8?"

Under this beauty campaign, Dove also published a photograph of several smiling and laughing real women in white underwear. Those photographs appeared everywhere in women's magazines and on TV next to regular beauty ads, contrasting even more with their unrealistic beauty standards. Then, they became viral, and people talked about it on the radio and talk shows, fueling the debate and the narrative set by Dove.

The idea was for people to question what was considered beautiful in our society and realize that it does not have a specific characteristic but comes in different colors, forms, and shapes. This campaign tries to convince people that every woman is beautiful and should feel beautiful.

Dove Real Beauty Campaign beauty comes in different shapes, forms StudySmarterFig. 2 - Beauty comes in different ages, shapes, and sizes

Dove Real Beauty Campaign: Evolution

In 2006 Dove launched the Evolution ad. This short video shows all the processes and evolution necessary to create a beauty campaign image. The clip starts with a woman taking a seat; we then see how make-up artists and hairdressers transform her to prepare for a photoshoot.

After the picture is taken, it is time for designers to modify the photograph by narrowing the nose, getting bigger eyes, erasing hairs, etc. Ultimately, the final picture is so different from reality that it does not even look like the model herself. At the end of the video, you can see this statement: "No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted."5

This ad shows that traditional media create a fake image of beauty that doesn't even look like the real person anymore and sets unrealistic standards of beauty that we can only achieve in a studio.

Dove Real Beauty Campaign: Beauty Sketches

In 2013 Dove launched the real beauty sketches campaign. The video starts with a woman sitting on a couch; next to her is an FBI artist specializing in sketching people's faces. They couldn't see each other, and the woman had to describe how she looked to the artist, and the artist would draw her face based on her description.

Once the artist finished the sketch, the model would go, and another person would come in. That newcomer would describe to the artist the first model that has just left, and the artist would have to do a new sketch of the first model based on the new description. Once the artist finished the drawings, they were placed next to each other. The result was that the first sketches were harsher and didn't represent a good image of reality.

Dove Real Beauty Campaign Controversy

Unfortunately, Dove's campaigns were not always successful. For example, in 2011, Dove launched its Visible Care body wash. In this campaign, we see three women with different skin colors draped in white towels and smiling. Behind them, on the left side, is an enlarged picture of what looks like dry skin with the notation "before" written on it. On the right side is an enlarged image of what looks like more smooth and soft skin with the note "after."

Although Dove claimed that the ad intended to illustrate all three women using the product with their smooth skin representing the "after" product benefit, many people interpreted the ad as the black woman representing the "before" and the white woman representing the "after." This campaign created huge controversy, after which Dove published an apology statement and removed the ad.7

Dove's strategy evolved over the years, but its core mission stayed the same and was always about promoting women's self-esteem and helping them see themselves as beautiful. Determining the exact financial results of the Dove beauty campaign is difficult as Dove was also using traditional advertising methods that were not part of the Dove Beauty campaign and were creating sales. Dove concluded that its best strategy was to invest 60% of its marketing budget in building its brand and 40% in standard ad campaigns to push sales.

Dove Real Beauty Campaign Results

Although some mistakes were made along the way, there is no denying Dove's impressive results:

  • Word of mouth: as Dove broke beauty taboos, people discussed its campaigns everywhere. They were picked up by talk shows and radio, which gave Dove free marketing coverage valued at 150 million USD and increased its brand awareness.4

  • People's view: Dove helped people identify themselves by promoting the beauty of regular people or showing how beauty ads distort reality. Through those ads, Dove improved people's self-esteem.

  • Brand recognition: Dove built a brand that is valued at 5.1 billion USD.8

Dove Real Beauty Campaign - Key takeaways

  • Dove analyzed women's real sentiments about beauty. Instead of conforming to the industry's standards, they promoted self-esteem and a new standard of beauty in different forms and shapes.
  • Building a brand identity is not done overnight; it is something that evolves and takes years of effort.
  • By breaking stereotypes and making the buzz, Dove received incredible free marketing coverage that helped strengthen the brand.
  • Dove established itself as a brand that helps women's self-esteem, that makes beauty something people should be proud of and not a source of concern. As of today, Dove continues to grow women's self-esteem by promoting real beauty all over the world.

References

  1. Unilever. The Dove difference, Real Beauty, a compelling social mission. https://www.unilever.com/brands/beauty-wellbeing/dove
  2. Etcoff, Nancy, Orbach, Susie, Scott, Jennifer, and Heidi Agostino. THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT BEAUTY: A GLOBAL REPORT. 2004.
  3. Dove. Our vision. https://www.dove.com/my/stories/about-dove/our-vision.html#:~:text=We%20believe%20beauty%20should%20be,and%20realise%20their%20full%20potential.
  4. Marketing Week. Mark Ritson on how Dove challenged beauty industry stereotypes. 24/06/2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GirRXvVUR28
  5. Tim Piper. Evolution. 06/10/2006. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U
  6. Dove. Dove Real Beauty Sketches | You're more beautiful than you think (6mins). 14/04/2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE&t=325s
  7. Miller, James . "Dove body wash ad stirs controversy." 26/05/2011. https://www.today.com/style/dove-body-wash-ad-stirs-controversy-flna1c8368826
  8. Statista. "Brand value of Dove worldwide from 2016 to 2022." 01/05/2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1010915/dove-brand-value-worldwide/

Frequently Asked Questions about Dove Real Beauty Campaign

There are multiple Real Beauty marketing campaigns, and all of them have a different message, but Dove has an underlying vision that is the same across all its campaigns: 

"We believe beauty should be a source of confidence, and not anxiety. That's why we are here to help women everywhere develop a positive relationship with the way they look, helping them raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential."

Yes, Dove created a brand identity thanks to its marketing campaign that people can relate to. Dove also created buzz and got more than 150 million USD of free marketing coverage.

Dove and the ad agency Ogilvy created the Real Beauty Campaign.

Dove's Real Beauty campaign started in 2004 with the "Real Women. Real Beauty" ad.

Dove launched its first campaign by showing photographs of people on billboards who were not supermodels from beauty ads but regular people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Under this beauty campaign, Dove also published a photograph of several smiling and laughing real women in white underwear. Those photographs appeared everywhere in women's magazines and on TV next to regular beauty ads, contrasting even more with their unrealistic beauty standards. 

Dove's real beauty campaign is neither short-term nor a one-time shot strategy. Dove adopted a long-term plan and implemented many marketing campaigns to create a narrative and build its brand over the years. The idea was to improve women's self-esteem by promoting women's real beauty and not the distorted reality created by the media.

Final Dove Real Beauty Campaign Quiz

Question

According to the study about "The real truth about beauty: a global report" in 2004, what percentage of women call themselves "beautiful"? 

Show answer

Answer

2%

Show question

Question

What is Dove's mission?

Show answer

Answer

"We believe beauty should be a source of confidence and not anxiety. That's why we are here to help women everywhere develop a positive relationship with the way they look, helping them raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential."

Show question

Question

Why was Dove's first beauty campaign so effective and popular?

Show answer

Answer

Because Dove portrayed pictures of regular women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. In contrast to the beauty industry's unrealistic standards of beauty.

Show question

Question

According to the 2006 Dove video clip "Evolution," why is our perception of beauty distorted?

Show answer

Answer

Because the media create a fake perception of beauty with unrealistic means: hairdressers, make-up artists, graphic designers, etc.

Show question

Question

What is the current value of Dove's brand?

Show answer

Answer

5.1 billion USD

Show question

Question

When was Dove established

Show answer

Answer

1957

Show question

Question

What was the goal of the marketing campaign "Real Women Real Beauty"?

Show answer

Answer

Dove wanted people to question what was considered beautiful in our society and realize that it doesn't have specific characteristics, but comes in different colors, forms, and shapes.

Show question

Question

What was the main message of the 2006 marketing campaign "Evolution"?

Show answer

Answer

That traditional media create a fake image of beauty.

Show question

Question

What was the message of the 2013 beauty sketches marketing campaign?

Show answer

Answer

That people can be overly critical of their own beauty.

Show question

Question

What is the message of the Dove Real Beauty campaign?

Show answer

Answer

There are multiple Real Beauty marketing campaigns, and all of them have a different message, but Dove has an underlying vision that is the same across all its campaigns: 


"We believe beauty should be a source of confidence, and not anxiety. That's why we are here to help women everywhere develop a positive relationship with the way they look, helping them raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential."

Show question

Question

Was the Dove Real Beauty campaign successful?

Show answer

Answer

Yes, Dove created a brand identity thanks to its marketing campaign that people can relate to. Dove also created the buzz and got more than 150 million USD of free marketing coverage.

Show question

Question

Who created the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty?

Show answer

Answer

Dove and the ad agency Ogilvy

Show question

Question

When did Dove's Real Beauty campaign start?

Show answer

Answer

Dove's Real Beauty campaign started in 2004 with the "Real Women. Real Beauty” ad

Show question

Question

How did Dove advertise the real beauty campaign?

Show answer

Answer

Dove launched its first campaign by showing photographs of people on billboards who were not supermodels from beauty ads but regular people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Under this beauty campaign, Dove also published a photograph of several smiling and laughing real women in white underwear. Those photographs appeared everywhere in women's magazines and on TV next to regular beauty ads, contrasting even more with their unrealistic beauty standards. 

Show question

Question

What is the Dove real beauty campaign?

Show answer

Answer

Dove's real beauty campaign is neither short-term nor a one-time shot strategy. Dove adopted a long-term plan and implemented many marketing campaigns to create a narrative and build its brand over the years. The idea was to improve women's self esteem by promoting women's real beauty and not the distorded reality created by media.

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