Dove & ‘real beauty’: Naïve marketing strategy#8

Katharine announced this weekend that we’re dumping all Dove product following their Campaign for Real Beauty, which you may have spotted on busses and elsewhere. I’m not talking about the ice cream, which remains kosher, but shampoo and conditioner (neither of which bother me), cleansers, body washes etcetera. Unfortunately, I’d recently stocked on this stuff and so had to put the case for phasing a new (yet to be announced) brand in rather than binning it all.

The Campaign for Real Beauty is a bit like Marks & Spencer’s legendary failure in which a fat girl ran around naked shouting ‘I’m normal!’. Perhaps she was. And this stuff goes down really well in research: ‘You’re not fat,’ said M&S. ‘You’re normal’; ‘You’re not oversized, your outstanding’, says Dove. ‘Thank you,’ said/says the fat girl. And just as M&S thought sales couldn’t get any lower, they bombed.

While ugly people (men as well as women, but mainly women) like the idea of being told they’re beautiful, they’re not that stupid. And nobody wants to be ugly. We all aspire to be attractive – even if we let ourselves go – and we want beauty products to offer beauty not lame excuses. The truly awful website invites you to vote on pictures of supposedly flawed women (mouseover the ugly vote and they try really hard for you). Of course, these are very well presented models and even supporters, like James Cherkoff, reckon the comments are seeded. ‘Be thankful for every wrinkle, roll, freckle and flaw,’ says ‘Lara’. Yeah, right, as if.

Katharine doesn’t want to be seen with Dove product in the gym, say, because if this campaign works people will see that brand and think ‘what’s wrong with her?’. Brand owners, Unilever, have bashed Dove around the head with the ugly stick and nobody will want the ugly to rub off on them.
Naïve Marketing Strategies#7: Chocolate HobNobs: luxury or standard issue?……Mazda RX-8 ideal sports car

9 thoughts on “Dove & ‘real beauty’: Naïve marketing strategy#8

  1. It’s the change in brand values. She feels that Dove no longer shares her aspirations. It’s all very well Dove saying ‘Be thankful for every wrinkle, roll, freckle and flaw’, but few of us can pull off that trick off. It’s normal to worry about that stuff and to aspire to be flawless (however unrealistic that aspiration may be). So while Dove is well meaning, and no doubt the campaign researched well, buying into Dove is defeatist.

  2. surely you don’t have to buy into the campaign every time? If the product works for me I’m going to use it regardless of their current advertising campaign. It’s not like they’re killing their workers in sweat shops is it? or are they?

    this photo was taken by Wild of Funjunkie.co.uk the other day, I think it says it all.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/richwild/3306158

    personally, I love the soap – can’t live without it. my skin is the only beautiful thing about me!

  3. Thanks for the info Stephen.

    Have I got this right? Your buyer is delisting Dove because she herself doesn’t like the ads?

    Do the preferences of your customers factor into her decision-making?

  4. one, reading this article really annoyed me.

    what is wrong with the campaign? nothing at all.

    its an effective marketing differentiation where millions of other clustered vultures who call themselves fashion pioners who understand the differences of every individual, yet bombard us daily with ways to look better to feel better about ourselves.

    I’m not even a dove user but this campaign made me reconsider my perception of their brand.

    it accounts for something new, different and has VALUE!!!

    gone and boring is the concept of dont hate yourself, this product will effectively change your physical attributes into a better one era. its so out!!!

    dove’s campaign is fresh air, or alike to oxygen within a compressed industry that kill us with their monoxide attitudes.

    even the fashion and entertainment industry attests to this. the new cool is being different and being different is now about the individual and what makes them unique!!

    katherine’s reluctance not to use dove might just be her own insecurities manifesting into reality.

    i’m beautifull,attractive, sexy, or whatever it is people with physically striking and compelling attributes are called.

    and better still, i’m slim, i dont need the gym to make me feel good about myself. i may be one of those women other women hate at first sight.

    and yet i love the campaign. it doesnt apply to me but it appeals to me. and you’ll find that all your pereceptions are wrong.

    liposuctions, cosmectic surgeries, fashion enhancing products are on their way out. its only a matter of time now.

    humanity can only reach what it aims to achieve. forget being the same, being different is the new in.

    my point? the CAMPAIGN FOR BEAUTY dove is advocating is BRILLIANT….!!!

  5. The campaign works because it speaks the truth; not a popular truth though, because we’ve all been brainwashed!

    Too many people buy the cookie cutter beauty ideals — and it’s soooooooooooo boring. Even movies have become more boring because all the leading rolls and extras have perfect teeth, everone’s average in height, no blemishes, no distinctive features — especially the women. Anyone with real character is featured as bad, or mentally disturbed, or worse. What a hoax and an insult to our intelligence… unless you buy into all the brainwashing. Blah!

    Give me a real person any day and the world will be a better place.

    Sorry for the tirade but you really touched a nerve.

  6. In 2007 Unilever’s Dove was the world’s number one “cleansing”-soap brand in the health and beauty sector, they had sales of over 2.5 billion that year in more than 80 countries. You’re boss is probably pretty clever, since I mean ugly people don’t go to the gym to increase their confidence in body image. Dove only made 2.5 billion last year what do they know.

  7. Actually, Dove sales began to stagnate with the “Pro Age” campaign. And at this time the Campaign for Real Beauty has more or less vanished. Slate magazine, back in 2005, may have got it right when it gave it an A for short term success and a D for long term success. The concept of “real beauty” was refreshing for a while, but after a while it may have come to seem a euphemism for second rate looks.

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