Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

Edelman is running the global PR programme for Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. The campaign started in March 2004 but has run at different times, speeds in different markets.

The campaign integrates both PR and advertising (Ogilvy & Mather). The success of the campaign has been how it has entered popular culture and gone beyond mainstream media coverage.

The campaign was about engendering debate and inspiring action. It persuaded opinion formers to get talk about a soap brand, which is quite an achievement.

It started with a global white paper research report (The Real Truth About Beauty). A key finding was that only 2% of women worldwide describe themselves as beautiful.

The real beauty campaign had a mission to help more women and girls to feel more beautiful and was willing to take a risk of alienating people by championing this mission. This was a bold move which was carried through with bold and controversial imagery which used images of beautiful women and girls which defied conventional stereotypes. The aim was not just to have a shock value.

Dove found a place in society and was willing to act as an advocate for female self-esteem which included an ad during the Super Bowl.

The success of the Dove evolution video on YouTube has been well chronicled by other social media commentators.

Dove took the Real Beauty campaign to where women already were – wherever that happened to be.

Once the debate had been kicked off it was important that Dove continued to be part of the debate and act as a thought leader. This meant commentating on controversial issues such as Heidi Klum refusing to accept models who were ‘too fat’ and the Madrid Fashion Week banning size zero models.

The result was not just more sales and a greater market share but more importantly that women connected with the Dove brand.

I’ve only captured a flavour of this fantastic campaign which is a credit to both Edelman and Dove.

UPDATE: Presentation by Cornelia Kunze, CEO, Edelman Germany


10 Replies to “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

  1. Thanks, Stuart. This post will be a starting point for a seminar on the University of Sunderland's groundbreaking social media module for PR students.

  2. I used the Dove campaign as the basis for an essay last year on the messages companies send out to their different publics. I was suprised by how genuine the campaign felt, not like a lot of ads that are clearly projecting a false image (Walmarts weblogs for one!) This added credibility to the Dove brand and made me emphasise more with the message and thus consider the brand more…well done Dove!

  3. I find it very interesting that the short video has been more successful than the superbowl adverts in attracting visitors to the Dove website. It shows that social media can prove to be a powerful PR tool when used effectively.

  4. I guess it was a succesfull idea, I'm not convinced however. It appears that every big name brand, organisation, is attempting to jump on the whole "we care" "were natural" bandwaggon. I can see Doves point, but they dont even make products involved with anything in the advert do they? If anything Doves products are used well before lipstick blusher, but then that has to be their point, is it?

  5. Just had a look around the 'campaign for real beauty' site and was really impressed with the amount of comments that had been left. Certainly adds another dimension to the PR's
    tool kit and silences the critics of social media and networking. The site even allows negative comment which makes the campaign appear more transparent and I only wish more
    sites and bloggers would allow it. Have to tried disagreeing with Little John on his Daily Mail forum.

    Only problem is that comments are not posted chronologically on the Dove site.

  6. The recent Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is very powerful and emotive. The video viral is an excellent example of how effective this new media phenomenon is when used properly.

    It is also illustrates the importance of timing when launching a campaign. The forum discussions highlight women’s issues with their self-esteem and comparisons with celebrity figures.

    My only criticism is the American site is far more interesting and informative than the British version.

    Michelle Lavery

  7. The recent Dove Campaign is fantastic and just what women today need to see. Adverts often leave women feeling deflated but Dove is showing a reality that people need to be aware of. The perception is that all models are beautiful and perfect but Dove is exposing the truth that, in reality they are often just plain Janes who have a huge team of make-up artists, stylists and a world of technolgy that can lift and tuck where needed.

    The only part of Dove that has slightly disappointed me is that the UK site certainly doesn't live up to the .com site. There are far more links and it is more interesting but having said that, it was a struggle to find a criticism at all. I have come away from reading this feeling inspired and happy that women are becoming more confident and I shall be telling people on my blog to visit the site to brighten up their day.

  8. I too am using this as a teaching aid. It is a classic in that it replaces scream marketing with relationship building. The result is an active conversation in many fora.

    It should be read with the Stafford and Stafford paper Mechanical Commercial Avoidance : A User and Gratification Perspective – Journal of Current Issues and Research Vol 18 No 2

  9. Thanks everyone for the comments – and Philip and David for using this post. Given the flack that Edelman has taken over its 'bad' use of social media in PR because of the Wal-marting across America blog it is good to be able to point to them also getting it right.

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