Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Real Beauty Sketches

Yes, this is basically an ad, but that doesn’t mean the message isn’t important. It’s from Dove, as part of their “Real Beauty” campaign. It comes from a simple fact they mention in their YouTube description: “Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful.” What this means is that most women think they’re less attractive than they really are.

So, Dove had a police sketch artist draw women without seeing them. First, he draws as he listens as the women describe themselves. Then he draws as he listens to strangers describing the women. The results are remarkable: Without exception, the strangers saw beauty that the women could not see in themselves. Instead, the women focuses on what they perceived as their flaws or shortcomings.

Dove has been at this for years. I remember many years ago when they ran a billboard campaign featuring real women. The fashion and cosmetics industry hasn’t moved as far as it should have by now, but that makes campaigns like Dove’s all the more important.

This campaign is designed for women, but I’ve seen studies that have found that men have a similarly negative view of themselves. As with women, one of the reasons is the unrealistic images portrayed and advanced by advertising. Maybe one day some company will launch a men’s version of Dove’s campaign.

In the meantime, I think that something that helps women be more positive about themselves is a good thing, even if they hope to sell stuff by doing so.


Adweek has more on the ad.

Not everyone has a positive view of this ad, the campaign or Dove generally.

The Wikepedia article on the campaign has a succinct look at it, along with links to more criticism.


Logan said...

This is a company that sells whitening cream all over the world. I choose to ignore their ads.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Yeah, I there are a lot of reasons to put the COMPANY aside, but it's more the message I was interested in.

Logan said...

There are some conflicting thoughts on that too...http://jazzylittledrops.tumblr.com/post/48118645174/why-doves-real-beauty-sketches-video-makes-me

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Yes, I read that piece yesterday. Quite frankly, my first reaction was that she was taking it WAY too seriously. But I'm not a woman, so maybe it's harder for me to see things her way. No corporation does things for the good of humanity—everything they do is about maximising profits, and Unilever is no different. But I wonder how many people are aware of all the negatives that the author of that piece mentions (like the skin bleaching you also mentioned). And if they're not, is it really so bad that people take the Dove campaign at face value? Yes, Dove/Unilever ought to to better and be better—all corporations should. I doubt they ever will. This video is, at the end of the day, nothing more than an ad to get people to buy their stuff. Whether people do or not is entirely up to them.

I think that people ought to be informed when they make their purchasing decisions, so I've added a links to the Little Drops piece and to the Wikipedia article on the campaign because it has links to more criticism.

As it happens, I don't personally use any of their products.

Logan said...

Hmm...some thoughts:

I think everyone knows on an intellectual level that the main motive behind all corporations is ultimately profit. In this day and age, though,I think many people (at least us liberals) expect that a corporate will 'do the right thing'. This can mean a number of things, but in this case means using models who aren't sickly thin, don't conform to the "standard" beauty ideal (blonde, blue eyes, white) and who sells products that don't violate these rules. And there is the rub, really.

To me, it is similar to a company who uses targeted advertising to gay men and women (read: Target), then turns around and spends those profits on anti-gay legislation or to support those horrible companies who believe they can "fix" gay people. I'm not saying Target has done this, but it would certainly take all the power out of their positive message.

There's too much information out there now, and companies cannot afford to try to play both sides of the coin. They want to come off as a company who cares about ALL women, and wants all women to feel beautiful...unless they are too dark. Then they have the product to fix that! :-P