Emotive Advertising: Dove Real Beauty Campaign

Advertising comes in many forms, and I’m not talking about whether it’s on TV or whether it’s online display, I’m talking about whether it’s humourous, foolish, bad, clever, blatant, controversial, irrelevant, cinematic, minimalistic, childish, old school, trashy, hilarious, cheesy, sexual, cunning, or damn right brilliant. One quality that has always, and always will remain a powerful tool in advertising is emotion.

Recently the industry has seen an influx of emotive advertising campaigns - brands know that getting people to connect with your brand on a personal level is half the battle. All brands should have a story to tell or convey certain values in their branding which can be attributed to real life. In this blog, we will consider how Dove have used emotion in their advertising.

This consumer brand knows how to hit our sore spots (excuse the pun). A classic beauty brand which started in 1957 as a bar of soap in the US, Dove is now an iconic family name. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign has consisted of a range of powerful videos and images, based on a research project, with the aim of making women feel good about themselves.

“The campaign started a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after the study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable.” (Dove)

Most would say that these videos are clever, real and emotional, but their most recent advert has received some backlash. Watch the video below.

Dove Beauty Patch

What’s your initial reaction from watching this video? For most people it’s a positive one - whether you’re a female, male, young or old, it’s hard not to feel emotional watching these women realize that the Beauty Patch was just a placebo. It sends an empowering message that beauty and body confidence is all about state of mind: not magic patches, pills or potions. The women in the video echo this sentiment, describing the process as a "life-changing experience". (Telegraph)

However there has been (an equally emotional) negative reaction, with some people claiming that this ‘trick’ is insulting to women. Laura Stampler at Time magazine writes:

“It makes women seem too gullible, too desperate, and overall helpless against the all-knowing master manipulators at Unilever.” (Time)

Steve Miles, Unilever's senior VP-Dove, said in a statement that Dove created the "Patches" video "to intentionally provoke a debate about women's relationship with beauty" given that 80% of women feel anxious about how they look and only 4% consider themselves beautiful. (AdAge)

Whether you find this video heart-warming or demeaning, or see it simply as a see-through marketing stunt, there’s no denying it has hit off. In under a week the video has received almost 13 million views from Dove’s Youtube channel alone. Unilever’s social media tracking has found a 92% positive sentiment globally. (AdAge)

With the Real Beauty campaign, Dove have been tapping into current issues of self-confidence and body image ideals that are prevalent in today’s Western society. Yes, ultimately Dove is a brand that sells products, and no matter how many lumps in throats these advertisements cause, we all know it’s a selling tactic. But they are doing it brilliantly - their research has given them real insight into their market and they have created emotional advertising that has got us all talking.

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