Communicating “Real Beauty”
What is real beauty? That is a question that apparently is never really answered by Dove in its attention-getting ad that has become an online superstar, having gotten almost 14 million hits on Dove's YouTube channel. Nevertheless, Dove says that "real beauty" is the theme of its brand campaign and has been since 2005.
The ad has a forensic sketch artist, hidden behind a curtain, drawing the face of a woman whom he cannot see, based on her description of her own facial features, followed by another person's observations of the same women's facial features. Separate faces are sketched on separate sheets. In every case, the sketch depicting the other individual's observations is prettier than the one providing a self-evaluation.
Thus, the tagline for the ad is "You're More Beautiful Than You Think." The campaign is based on a survey that shows that only 4% of all women see themselves as beautiful. The message clearly is that Dove is a critical element in enhancing and maintaining beauty.
There are 3-minute and 6-minute versions of the ad, making it strictly for online exposure rather than TV. Capturing audience attention for that long is significant.
While it is clear from the ad that women are concerned about their appearance and undervalue the way they look, it seems Dove has a bigger opportunity to extend the beauty platform beyond the physical, and thereby capture the attention of a still larger audience and further build brand value.
Our culture today defines beauty as not only skin deep. Thus, female beauty involves the total person. Men would never be positioned the way women are in this ad. One woman quoted in a New York Times piece on the Dove campaign had mixed feelings about the ad, saying, "What if I did look like the woman [in the less flattering sketch] on the left. There are people who look like that."
"Real Beauty" in that case would be expanded to include both inner and outer beauty, making women think about the value placed on both. Dove's impact on a woman's skin will be important no matter what, and the campaign theme, "You're More Beautiful Than You Think," will have a broader meaning and expand the customer base.