Tuesday, April 15, 2008

5359: Dove Campaign For Real Bullshit.

It’s no secret that MultiCultClassics has never been a fan of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, criticizing the Unilever bullshit since 2005. The latest offerings provide further fodder for eye-rolling condemnation.

To quickly recap, the brand’s Website states, “The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is a global effort launched in 2004 to serve as a starting point for societal change and act as a catalyst for widening the definition and discussion of beauty. The campaign supports the Dove mission: to make more women feel beautiful every day by widening stereotypical views of beauty.”


Even the traditionally anti-Madison Avenue Adbusters called out the campaign in an essay declaring, “Why Commercials Can’t Spark Change.” The May/June 2008 issue remarked:

“Consider the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty—one of the projects that set [Vanity Fair media critic Michael] Wolff off at [a design] conference in December. Billed as a ‘global effort that is intended to serve as a starting point for societal change and act as a catalyst for widening the definition and discussion of beauty,’ the campaign involves some truly brilliant short films that deconstruct the myth of beauty in advertising and features women with ‘real curves’ in its print ads. In this case the message is right on—it’s time to end the propagation of unrealistic ideals. But the intention—to somehow bolster women’s self-esteem while selling them firming lotion—is the problem. This is advertising in the guise of activism. Cue the cynical laugh.”

Adbusters was polite in its observations. Dove doesn’t have the heart and soul to be an activist. Indeed, the brand has consistently failed to remain true to its original goal of shattering the idealized images prevalent in the fashion, health and beauty categories.

For example, the ad hawking Dove Energy Glow Beauty Body Lotion depicts highly stylized photography of women whose figures are well above the norm. The hottie on the far right has the kind of sculpted abs regularly found on the covers of fitness magazines. Although it seems like Dove sought to compensate for the nice bodies by attaching them to plain-Jane faces—which are still better than average by most people’s measures. The tagline—good for your skin. great for your look.—also emphasizes the imperative to be visually sexy.

Yet the biggest Real Beauty deviation is unveiled via The Dove Digital Channel, a self-proclaimed innovative relaunch of Dove.com. The site highlight is Fresh Takes, a microseries starring recording artist Alicia Keys. Um, when last we noticed, Keys was drop-dead gorgeous. And the Webisodes include her fictional roommates, a fetching Asian lass and a lovely White gal. WTF! Ironically, the terrible writing renders Fresh Takes decidedly not fresh—it’s a wannabe sitcom that ultimately makes Keys and her crew look, well, ugly.

Perhaps Dove’s new tactic is to reinvent beauty standards by taking extraordinarily attractive women and transforming them into something not so pretty. It’s a bizarro reverse of the award-winning Evolution commercial.

In the end, Dove inspires folks to holler, “Calgon, take me away!”

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