Now in its tenth year, the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign has released a series of digital, print and video ads touting “a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.” The ads feature women in a variety of shapes, ages and colors, which is refreshing – the women who show up in a Dove ad probably never thought they’d be models. The ads are in stark contrast to the slew of others selling a moving target of beauty and perfection. However, the problem is that the campaign is so slick, it’s easy to forget that what you’re looking at is, in fact, still an ad trying to sell something.
The latest installment in Dove’s series of hybrid commercial/PSA videos was released this week, but unlike some of Dove’s past efforts, it’s about as subtle as a lone neon sign. Take a look:
The result is that Dove now has video of women talking about how a Dove product made them feel gorgeous and changed their entire outlook. While the video makes a worthy (if tired) point that true beauty comes from the inside, that doesn’t change the fact that Unilever, Dove’s parent company, is still part of the problem in selling and exalting impossibly high standards of beauty through its other brands like Axe, Slim-Fast and Noxzema. The “Real Beauty” campaign isn’t about women being happy or feeling better. It’s about finding a market and cash flow in women who pride themselves on confidence and personal strength, and identify Dove as being empathetic to their concerns. Very sneaky, Dove.