How Dove's New Campaign Is Achieving Exactly What It's Intended For
Emotions are important.
They teach us to avoid making mistakes and to pursue the things we love and enjoy. They determine the direction of our lives.
The power our emotions have over us also means that in our current world of hashtags and social media campaigns, where "feelings" are tweeted and shared instantaneously, "emotional responses" have become a number one consideration for boardrooms around the world.
Last year, a study of over 700 business executives by the Fortune Knowledge Group even revealed, rather than analytical factors like data and statistics, two thirds of those studied were more inclined to base their business decisions on "human factors" -- aka, emotions.
#ChooseBeautiful, Dove’s latest marketing campaign, is a perfect example of this.
Rather than broadcast bland facts and numbers like rival company L’Oréal (whose "Elvive Nutri-gloss haircare" advertisement has actress Frieda Pinto promote how nine out of 10 women found the product’s "pearl-protein" formula enhanced their hair’s "glossiness"), Dove has gone back to basics.
In fact, its latest series of advertisements in its "Campaign for Real Beauty" don’t mention Dove products at all.
Instead, the campaign follows women all over the world as they are asked to choose between walking through a door marked "Average" and walking through a door marked "Beautiful."
The women who walk through the door marked "Beautiful" feel empowered, and the women who walk through the door marked "Average" report feeling lower self-esteem as a result.
Then, it’s revealed that, statistically, "the door experiment" conveniently supports a recent survey conducted by Dove. The survey reported 96 percent of women would describe themselves as "average" rather than "beautiful."
Now, of course, the aim of the campaign is not just to encourage more women to "Choose Beautiful." It’s mainly to sell Dove’s range of goods.
Unilever's website (the group that owns Dove) describes, "Part of the success of our Dove Self-Esteem Project has been an increased willingness among consumers to spread the brand’s positive message and to purchase Dove’s products."
Considered this: "Choose Beautiful" is just a means of making customers associate Dove with a positive message, and then they feel empowered to buy more moisturizer.
Seen as a ruthless example of capitalism, the whole campaign becomes a hell of a lot less heartwarming, right?
Okay, so maybe it does a little.
It would be foolish to look at the "Choose Beautiful" advertisements and assume every member of Dove’s marketing team truly believes in inspiring women to define themselves as beautiful.
It would be just as foolish to assume everyone behind the Sainsbury’s Christmas advertisement about World War I truly believes "Christmas is for sharing."
They probably don’t.
In fact, plenty of the people behind the "Choose Beautiful" campaign probably aren’t even that interested in whether you choose to define yourself as "beautiful" or not.
As long as you feel inspired to buy Dove products as a result of the campaign’s uplifting message, they’ve done their job and they’ve done it well.
So, yes, it’s patronizing, corporate advertising. But, is that a good enough reason to dismiss the "Choose Beautiful" message in its entirety?
Or, shouldn’t we celebrate the fact that an international company has chosen to market a celebration of positive body image and the empowerment of women in the same highly successful way it markets its moisturizers?
Whether we like how Dove is using the information to sell self-care products or not, the statistic that 96 percent of women consider themselves "average looking" is not a good thing.
Changing this, on the other hand, is Dove’s presentation of women across the entirety of its "Campaign for Real Beauty" (of which "Choose Beautiful" is the latest installment).
Look at Dove’s billboards, posters and commercials from the last few years and you’ll see a reflection of women of all races, sizes and ages.
In 2007, they launched the "Pro-Age" campaign, celebrating women over 50. In 2006, "Little Girls" aimed to empower the next generation of confident women.
In 2005, in the campaign’s second year, "Real Women in the Spotlight" saw "real women" modeling for the company.
These campaigns that present images of beauty almost every woman can relate to — as the "selfie generation" becomes more and more obsessed with generic, media-fueled images of beauty — are something to celebrate, not scorn.
Obviously, choosing "beautiful" might mean women around the world could be duped into associating Dove's beauty and self-care products with positive self-image (therefore, buying more as a result).
It also means, however, women around the world can choose to be confident and empowered.
They can reject our current culture of comparison and define themselves according to an idea of beauty into which everyone can fit.
It might mean a spike in deodorant sales for Dove, but, frankly, that alone is more than enough to make me #ChooseBeautiful.
Hopefully, it’s more than enough for other women, too.