How the Dove Real Beauty Campaign Set a New Standard

Aug 13, 2019

Marketing has a reputation for presenting an ideal (and often unrealistic) version of the world. Photoshopping models has become the norm in ad campaigns, and food and restaurant marketing is often a far cry from the real thing

That’s the only way it was for decades. But recently, a trend of calling out traditional societal and marketing norms is growing fast, thanks to campaigns from brands such as Gillette, Scotch Porter and Nike. But it took an ad for soap to get the ball rolling.

A Facelift for the Beauty Industry

Fifteen years ago, Dove looked at brands like Victoria’s Secret and Gucci, often criticized for their ultra-thin models and retouching photos, and saw an opportunity to tell a different story. The “Campaign for Real Beauty” launched in 2004 and is still in use today. It celebrates all different body types typically not featured in the media, unedited and proud. Rather than showcasing models representing what women and girls want to look like, the Dove campaign shines a light on who women actually are

Not only did Dove seek to popularize a new advertising perspective by creating an entire campaign, but it did the research to support the direction and drive media attention. Prior to the Real Beauty launch, Dove conducted a study that showed that only 2 percent of women considered themselves beautiful, and Dove’s campaign committed to changing that.

Dove’s Campaign Paid Off

Ten years after launching the campaign, company revenue had increased from $2.5 billion to $4 billion. Including a broad array of women in their advertising lets all women feel represented and at home with the brand. Other companies have followed this idea of self-empowerment advertising, recently in Gillette’s campaign challenging stereotypes of masculinity. 

Dove continues to evolve this idea, including conducting research on women’s thoughts on digitally altered ads and launching its new “No Digital Distortion Mark” campaign doubling down on using unedited photos. 

Long Story Short: Making your product more relatable to the consumer and allowing them to see themselves in the advertising has become a proven way to make your brand more appealing and comfortable to a buyer.  

This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Gabe Escobar.

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