Dove’s Latest Deception

One of the biggest criticisms of the advertising industry, generally speaking, is that it’s dishonest.  Commercials tell parents that putting a fatty chocolate-hazelnut spread on their kids’ toast in the morning will make them do better in school. Kim Kardashian tells viewers, on behalf of Sketchers, that if you wear those ugly rocking-chair-like sneakers, your butt will look, like, 100% more toned in just days.  Or, if you use this particular eye cream, your complexion will go from Clint Eastwood to Kate Moss overnight!

Misleading advertising is not looked upon kindly, and there are a number of governing boards that set standards and monitor works of advertising, like the Canadian Competition Bureau. They’ve set up misleading advertising and labelling provisions, which are designed to stop advertisers from making deceptive representations for the purpose of promoting a product or service.

But, as you’d likely suspect, there are also vigilantes out there who have taken the cause into their own hands.  Over the last decade, Dove has made a concerted effort to start a dialogue, and make moves to change the way advertisers market specific products, mostly ones targeting women. Their dedication to promoting “real beauty” has been applauded globally, and this week they added another notch to their award-winning campaign belt.

Mashable:

Dove is continuing its decade-long “Real Beauty” campaign with a Photoshop action that seeks to un-airbrush unrealistic images of models. The Photoshop action — a downloadable file that applies an action with a single click — is aimed at art directors who may be creating such ads. The action, which was disseminated on Reddit and other places where Dove thought such art directors might visit, promised to add a skin glow effect, but actually reverted the image to its original state.

Although it definitely has people talking, some have looked at this new campaign skeptically, saying that Dove missed the mark with their target. We’re going to put on our devil’s advocate pants for a moment, and consider this point… Society obligations are sometimes left in the wind when incorporating all stakeholders’ feedback during the creative process. Perhaps a similar campaign directed at someone other than the designers and art directors, maybe someone higher up in the chain of command, could have packed more of a punch?

Secondly, some people are leery about the sincerity of Dove’s mandate. Dove, who is owned by Unilever, says that it is firmly opposed to ads that objectify women. However, Unilever also owns Axe, and if you’ve ever seen an Axe ad, you’ll understand this obvious contradiction.

Just a little bit of food for thought. Chew on it, and then let us know what you think of this campaign. Is it effective? Watch below, and let us know in the comment section!

 

  • tanviswar

    I think the idea is great, and the use of technology is excellent. As a digital piece, it’s great. However, I completely agree regarding the contradictions. I actually never buy Dove because of the same reason. While it is advertising and we all lie (or simply, shroud the truth) at some point or the other, Dove’s contradictions and hypocrisy are blatant. All of Dove’s “beauty” is also limited to freckles, wrinkles, grey hair and a little smooth chub. They conveniently neglect and fail to include cellulite, acne, other skin blemishes and there seems to be a limit on the weight. The women are also almost unnaturally hairless. Not sure if that’s “real” beauty, Dove!

  • Art Directors Everywhere

    The portrayed “photo effect” looks awful so I wouldn’t even think about downloading it. Failed attempt Dove.

    • RobynACD

      It’s pretty much just an instagram filter, isn’t it?

  • Starfish416

    Yes, it’s hypocritical in terms of the body image aspect, coming from Unilever. Also, one imagines “Real Beauty” is also meant to conjure up the same sort of impression as the term “natural” does when used in food products. And in the much same way, Dove is far from “real” or “natural” when it comes to its ingredients.

  • Rae

    I think it is wonderful to raise awareness about the unrealistic beauty images portrayed in the media.
    I think it is wonderful that Dove has put women of all shapes and sizes in their advertisements and helped to normalize those bodies as beautiful.

    But I don’t think this is the best way to sell Dove products.

    Instead of connecting the name Dove to natural and simple skin case products, I now connect it with an impassioned crusade against the harms of Photoshop. But how much of the glow of their “real models” is real? I would love to hear that it’s all in the product and the lighting and the photographer, but I have strong doubts that is the case.

  • BeeBalm

    Axe’s objectification of women for a male audience is in direct contrast to Dove’s “real beauty” message. It’s all about marketing, and boy, does Unilever know its target markets. Regardless of what Unilever claims, it is a corporation whose main purpose is to make money by selling products. They are manipulating the frustration and powerlessness modern women feel towards advertising for their own purposes. Not exactly selfless or revolutionary.

    • http://www.facebook.com/CPSKitty Carolyn Hyde

      While I agree with you that AXE does objectify women, I must disagree about your statement about the “powerlessness modern women feel towards advertising.” Women are not powerless. We are smart enough to know when advertisements are lying to us, and indeed being objectified. So, we do our research and buy a good product that actually does what it says it does, and often choose to ignore advertising altogether.

  • Nikkii

    That would be super annoying actually, you spend x amount of time making a pic look good a wham right back to original… Its all fine and dandy to say that beauty is what you make it blahblahblah… But when you leave internet and facebook world, its mean && cut throat and looks actually matter… Its sad, but fucking up peoples photoshop sessions is not gonna change perception to the 99% of the pop. That is not influenced by every ad they see about loving yourself for whats inside… Shoot me, but i speak the truth and you know it.

  • michelle

    Sure, it’s great that Dove is trying to empower it’s women consumers in North America, but what about the well being of women living in the countries where they source their products? Palm oil, one of the ingredients in many of Dove’s products, is sourced from tropical countries such as Indonesia. To plant Oil Palms, huge areas of rainforest are being clearcut and burned. This is destroying the habitat for many plants and animals such as the the orangutans as well as the home land of indigenous communities.

    Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odI7pQFyjso

  • http://www.facebook.com/Genieve.McRae Rae McRae

    use mud, its a nice skin cream…more natural. find river bed mud, smear on skin, let it dry and rinse it off…nice smooth skin, a kid would know, cause i have done that :)

  • Guest

    I agree with the comments about missing the target audience here, but I would like to add another important point that I think we are missing here: target should never HATE the ad. I think I would just hate the brand if they cheat me saying “download this tool so you can do your job better” and in reality they are just making fun of me, precisely when I´m short of time and need to finish a layout for a meeting. Yes, it is a surprise, but It´s a welcome one; yes, it is a joke, but it´s not funny.
    I also think that they are not setting an example, but just being moralist with this campaign. In the original “Real Beauty” THEY did something different of what they used to do (to put a different king of women in ads) and they show me a way to go whit that. On the contrary, they are just chiding me here; basically for doing what I was ask to do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mauricio.olivera.35 Mauricio Olivera

    I agree with the comments about missing the target audience here, but I would like to add another important point that I think we are missing: target should never HATE the ad. I think I would just hate the brand if they cheat me saying “download this tool so you can do your job better” and in reality they are just making fun of me, precisely when I´m short of time and need to finish a layout for a meeting. Yes, it is a surprise, but It´s not a welcome one; yes, it is a joke, but it´s not funny.
    I also think that they are not setting an example, but just being moralist with this campaign. In the original “Real Beauty” THEY did something different of what they used to do (to put a different king of women in ads) and they show me a way to go whit that. On the contrary, they are just chiding me here; basically for doing what I was ask to do.

  • http://twitter.com/Groked Grok

    Art Directors, Graphic Designers and Photo Retouchers are responsible? Of course the clients have zero input into what we produce, right?

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