Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is a worldwide marketing campaign launched in 2004 that includes advertisements, video, workshops, sleepover events and even the publication of a book and the production of a play. The principle behind the campaign is to celebrate the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves.[1] Dove's partners in the effort include such marketing and communications agencies as Ogilvy & Mather, Edelman Public Relations, and Harbinger Communications (in Canada).[2]

The launch campaign featured women of different shapes and sizes recruited in a number of ways; one was approached in the street, another answered an ad which was placed in a local South London newspaper.


The campaign

The campaign was shot by the British portrait/fashion photographer Rankin[3] who has made a career out of subverting fashion photography and who has also produced several books featuring ordinary-looking people.

Ogilvy's London office chose Rankin because he brings out the character and personality of his subjects and he likes working with non-professional models. Dove wanted to celebrate women by using a photographer who also shoots supermodels, giving them the same star treatment. Rankin shot the follow-up campaign for Dove as well.

One billboard in the series asked viewers to phone 1-888-342-DOVE to vote on whether a woman on the billboard was "fat" or "fab". The results were posted real-time on the board. While a photo in the October 25, 2004 issue of Marketing Magazine shows "fab" leading 51% to 49%, eventually the percentage of "fat" votes overtook "fab", much to the chagrin of marketers.

This campaign has also spurred on a phenomenon whereby attractive women with bodies that better reflect 95% of the female population are referred to as Dove Beauties.

As part of this campaign, in 2006, Dove started the Dove Self-Esteem Fund that claims to change the Western concept of beauty from ultra-thin models with "perfect" features to making every girl (and woman) feel positive about her looks.. In an effort to promote the Fund, Dove ordered a series of highly-successful online-based short films promoting the self-esteem concept, which to date includes Daughters (which also aired as a 75-second television spot suring the Super Bowl XL), Evolution (which went on to win a number of honours, including two Cannes Lions Grand Prix awards),[2] Onslaught, and Amy.

The campaign has been criticized on the grounds that Unilever also produces Fair and Lovely, a skin-lightening product marketed at dark-skinned women in several countries. [1] It was also widely noted that Unilever brand Lynx's advertising campaign would seemingly contradict the sentiment of the Campaign for Real Beauty.[4] Not to mention the fact that Unilever also owns and markets their AXE brand of deodorants, where overtly sexualized women are its campaigning staple. This appears to be starkly hypocritical - in contrast to Dove's campaign - as Unilever utilizes "idealized" female sexuality to market AXE products towards young men.[5]

Greenpeace has campaigned that "Unilever, the makers of Dove, is buying palm oil from companies that are destroying valuable rainforest and peatland areas, which is bad news not only for the millions of people who depend on them for their way of life and endangered species such as the orang-utan, but also for the global climate." [6]


  1. ^ Why the Campaign for Real Beauty?, accessed May 20, 2008
  2. ^ a b Dove Evolution Viral Film Wins Film Grand Prix at Cannes Advertising Awards June 23, 2007 press release.
  3. ^ Street Cents: "Behind the Hype: Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign" Season 5 Episode 2, page accessed May 20, 2008
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^

External links

Offical sites


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