A few months ago, Dove, one of the world’s most well-known brands of soap, was relaunched under a new marketing campaign called “Dove Self-Esteem Fund.” The fund was launched to “serve as an agent of change to educate and inspire girls on a wider definition of beauty and to make them feel more confident about themselves.” This particular advertising campaign was dubbed as “one of the most touching advertisements ever shown on television.” Unlike the usual formula of using beautiful women with flawless skin as models in soap commercials, the Dove campaign chose to make non-celebrity, everyday women the centerpiece of the advertisement.
The Dove commercial featured several women, both young and old, who expressed their thoughts about their self-doubt and poor self-image. Some either mused that they were too fat or did not like the color of their skin, others felt ugly because of their features. All the women in the commercial saw something wrong or something they did not like about how they look. As a result, these women said that their negative outlook had somehow adversely influenced their self-concept and self-esteem.
The beauty and skincare treatment company that manufactures Dove soap wanted to make their skincare line of products more popular or customer-preferred not because of its ingredients or the latest scientific breakthrough in skincare treatment. The company wanted to re-establish its market niche by catering to the sensitivities of women, particularly those who do not see themselves as being very beautiful based on society’s standards. The focus of the commercial and the rest of the advertising campaign was on the concept of “real beauty.”
Marketing a soap product using the concept of “real beauty” was a stroke of genius. For so many years, many women have been preoccupied with taking care of their skin. Keeping one’s skin white and wrinkle-free was considered part of being a woman. In fact, for many women around the world, skincare is simply an obsession. The focus of the campaign makes sense since physical beauty has been given so much importance by society. In fact, skincare is among the top concerns of women because the skin is the largest and most visible organ of the human body.
In reality, skincare is really no longer just about vanity. It is now a health issue. The challenge of keeping the skin youthful-looking, or pimple or blemish-free, and properly moisturized is absolutely difficult given today’s environment. Pollution, chemicals in processed food, and the high-stress life in the 21st century all contribute to faster skin aging. The harsh rays of the sun also contribute to premature skin aging. In response, various skincare treatment and product manufacturing companies came out with different products that all promised to protect the skin from the harsh environment. These beauty products were developed using the latest scientific procedures and “secret” ingredients that would supposedly “turn back the time” and rejuvenate the skin.
Most companies use advertisements that intentionally make millions of female consumers feel inadequate about themselves. Of course, this inadequacy can be addressed by the product the companies sell. Many still buy into this marketing gimmick because of the constant barrage of the sole and universal message of beauty product advertising: “Buy our products and you will look younger and more beautiful like these women you see on TV.”
These days, the somewhat skewed concept of beauty among women can partly be attributed to the many advertisements shown on television. Usually, the common factor among different advertisements about skincare products presents world-class supermodels as the representative of all things beautiful, admirable, and ideal. Thus, most women fall into the trap of comparing themselves to the glamorous, flawless women on television. Any deviations or differences from that “female ideal” will then be considered as unusual and, worse, even ugly. Sometimes, women get so affected or upset about being so far from this commercially developed “ideal woman” that even their self-concept and self-esteem become so negatively influenced.
Dove, through its “Real Beauty” commercial, was able to stand out by breaking free from the convention of project “perfectionism.” Instead of going for the supermodel look, the makers of Dove cleverly used “real” women that most consumers could easily relate to. Because of this, they have made their skincare product more appealing to ordinary women who crave a more realistic, attainable, “non-showbiz” concept of beauty.
Hopefully, other companies will follow the “Real Beauty” principle. Women truly deserve to be freed from the stereotypes of so-called beauty. Skincare companies should realize the effectiveness of the Dove advertising campaign. Advertisements should inform consumers how to make good purchase decisions. Commercials that focus on skincare and skincare treatment need not make consumers feel bad about themselves. Indeed, soap and other beauty product commercials should become a means of uplifting the self-esteem and confidence of women. Women should not be burdened with the fancy images shown on television. They should be allowed to show their “true colors.”
Women, as the lyrics of the song say, are truly “beautiful like a rainbow.”