Rock of Dove

Shockingly wrinkle-free!For the last several years, Dove has been busily branding itself as a socially conscious company on a mission to improve women’s self-esteem. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty strives ” to free ourselves and the next generation from beauty stereotypes.” This is supposedly done through thought-provoking ads, confidence-building programs, and messages that embrace all definitions of beauty (except for those that eschew using beauty products, I assume).

Dove’s “embrace” has included the now iconic print ads of women size six and up wearing underwear (which turned out to be heavily touched up)  and commercials with very fit older women in the nude (how is her skin so smooth? Must be the Dove Pro-Age!). But the Campaign for Real Beauty hasn’t been entirely superficial. Dove aired this ad at the 2006 Super Bowl to promote their Self-Esteem Fund, which donates $1 to Girl Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, or Girls Inc. when a customer enters a product code online:

The strategy has created a lot of publicity for Dove, and improved sales. And why wouldn’t we thrill at millions of people watching an ad that raises awareness about the importance of positive body image? Even though it’s obviously hypocritical for a company to sell beauty products by decrying beauty standards, it’s hard to throw stones when they’re donating money to good causes. (Although, when I was a Girl Scout we had to earn a “Beauty and Hygiene” badge, so I haven’t written off the possibility that this is some sort of conspiracy.)

But Dove tested my patience with “30 Rock Beauty Moments” at, in which they insinuate themselves into the hilarious work of Tina Fey. “Sure, everybody has had moments where they feel their absolute best about how they look,” the intro reads, “and why should Liz Lemon and the rest of the crew at 30 Rock feel any different? Check out just some of the hilarious highlights that best define ‘Beauty Moments’ for 30 Rock.”

The page features five video clips from 30 Rock, all preceeded by the exact same ad for Dove Deep Moisture (which has absolutely nothing to do with self-esteem, btw). The clips supposedly focus on moments of the show when characters feel beautiful or sexy, but obviously those scenes are actually subverting expectations of feminine sexuality BECAUSE IT’S 30 ROCK. THAT’S WHAT THEY DO.

Unfortunately, Tina Fey’s funny loses some of its zing in the context of an ad campaign for soap. And by exploiting Fey’s feminist take on beauty, Dove reveals that, ultimately, it just doesn’t get it.

by Juliana Tringali
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9 Comments Have Been Posted

I thought I was the only one

I thought I was the only one that goes, "BUT YOU SELL BEAUTY PRODUCTS" every time I saw this campaign. Apparently not. Appropriation is always appropriation, isn't it? Just because you can appropriate feminist ideals, that doesn't make your campaign feminist.

I really find ad campaigns like this a lot more sinister than the ones who are more upfront about what they do.

But I thought they just sell

But I thought they just sell soap, deodorant, and shampoo/conditioner? Those aren't beauty products. Do they sell other things I don't know about?

Beauty Products?

I'm not sure those things qualify as "beauty products." Sure, having healthy skin and hair is good, but I would think of these products more as having to do with hygiene. I think that, even though the women they represent are still not exactly in the real-life norm categories, it's still better than what a lot of real beauty companies (makeup, hair products, etc.) are selling. The fact that they're giving any money to a great cause like teaching kids (particularly girls) what it means to have positive body image is a huge step above similar companies in my book.

They're only giving us that

They're only giving us that line to make us buy their product, not because they <i>really</i> care about us feeling good about ourselves. That's what bothers me so much. I don't want to rely on a corporation to feed my self-esteem.

No, deodorant or shampoo and

No, deodorant or shampoo and conditioner aren't beauty products, but look at what they are advertising. This "real beauty" isn't marketing their deodorant or shampoo and conditioner. It's their skin products.

What is real beauty anyways?

I never got it either, a company that sells beauty products, campaigning to women about "real beauty." Real beauty is you when you're just you, and it isn't necessarily physical either. Yeah, campaigning for "real beauty" is great, but not when you're doing so to try to get women to buy beauty products to change and improve their appearance... the whole message is contradictory. If you're beautiful just the way you are, why would you need or want beauty products?

They may or may not be

They may or may not be "beauty products" but they are still SELLING SOMETHING!!! Im tired of what are JUST ADS being shrouded in a "positive message" that everyone just eats up being they are so deprived of anything even remotely real being represented in the media. I get the whole "at least theyre doing SOMETHING" line of thinking, I really do, but it still feels wrong and not really authentic and I cant settle for it. And, as another poster already pointed out, these women are still touched up, and still dont fall too outside the lines of traditional beauty standards.
And yes, it also makes me sick that its being plugged via 30 Rock's comediannes.

Beauty Fail

Shouldn't we remember to mention that Dove is owned by the same company that produces Axe and its incredibly misogynist ads? So, even if beauty standards are subverted a little bit in the Dove campaign, Axe is on a campaign to teach the world that women are fawning prizes for men (though only women who fit a certain very sexualized standard of beauty, of course).

And, as another commenter said, Dove is trying to tell us something. Any benevolence they might show is also a carefully planned marketing strategy.

Not perfect, and hypocritical

But the problem that people have is that it's hypocritical, especially that it's the same company that produces Axe products. It is possible for a company to live up to the message that it preaches, but that's is exactly the problem with Dove, is that they preach "real beauty" and yet sell anti-aging products. And products that get rid of cellulite. That's not real beauty, so their message really doesn't make a lot of sense.

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