This year, the hugely successful Dove campaign for Real Beauty turned eleven years old. Not only has the campaign been useful in encouraging diversity in beauty, it has also been one of most successful advertising campaigns of the decade. According to reports, over 11 years the Real Beauty campaign has helped Dove boosts its sells from $2.5 billion to $4 billion. However, the campaign is not merely about sales, but to encourage women to stop defining beauty in accordance to the media because the media’s definition of beauty is unattainable and very narrow. This year, the latest advertisement, the “Choose Beautiful” campaign touches on the issue of body image by asking women all over the world one question; beautiful, or just average?
Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty debuted in Canada in 2004. It has launched various ads in the series since then including the “Tested on Real Curves” photos of non-models in white underwear and the 2013 “Real Beauty Sketches” video, in which an FBI sketch artist asked individual women participating to describe themselves or a stranger seated next to them earlier in the day. Both campaigns quickly became popular among viewers and “Real Beauty Sketches” became the most watched campaign for that year.
In the latest ad, launched in April, Dove labeled doors in public places with signs that read “beautiful” and “average.” Thereafter, they observed the way different women reacted to the signs and which door each woman ultimately walked through. The ad was shot in Shanghai, San Francisco, London, Sao Paulo and Delhi and many of the women after some consideration chose the ‘average’ door. Moreover, as part of the Choose Beautiful campaign, Dove interviewed around 6,400 women between the ages of 18 and 64 in 20 countries around the world on their perception of beauty (of themselves and other women). Ultimately, results revealed that 96 percent of women would not describe themselves as beautiful. The end goal for this ad was for women to #choosebeautiful.
In general the ad has received positive criticism from people around the world, however there are some who don’t believe the authenticity of the message Dove is trying to promote. For some, Dove cannot possibly be authentic due to the fact that the brand owner, Unilever, is also the parent company of Slimfast, Axe and Fair & Lovely skin-whitening cream, products that do not promote, ‘real’ beauty. In addition, many have pointed that the ‘research’ that Dove is conducting is more market research than academic research. In fact, the research, The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report, where the campaign idea sparked from, also found that 71 percent women are satisfied or very satisfied with their beauty. Thus, the idea that Dove is trying to perpetuate, that most women are not happy about their appearance is argued to be a false one.
A lot has been said about the campaign throughout the years, both negative and positive, but the fact remains that the campaign has really tried to empower women and challenge unrealistic modern day beauty standards. Moreover, the world cannot ignore that the increasingly narrow definition of beauty has affected a lot of women and men around the world. To be honest, as much as I talk about beauty and acceptance, if that door had appeared before, I don’t know if I would have chosen the beautiful door. We don’t like to admit it, but society and the media really shapes our decisions and our perceptions of many things. It is hard to ignore billboards, magazines and movies that consistently show you what is considered beautiful.
As a result, say what you might about the Dove campaign but their “Choose Beautiful” campaign is a powerful one. For me, the campaign reminds us that the choice to be beautiful starts with ourselves. So, as you end this year remember that you don’t have to wait for someone to call you beautiful to be and feel beautiful.
Check out their ad below.
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