Behold the Power of Advertising
Studies find that only 2% of women around the world consider themselves “beautiful”.(Dove®, The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report) Our current definition of beauty is becoming increasingly unattainable. Women should not have to be digitally enhanced or flawless in appearance to have a chance on a billboard. Women portrayed in advertisements are an unrealistic representation of the average woman. “Imagine a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety”(Dove®, 2004). This is one of the slogans for The Dove® Campaign for Real Beauty. This campaign is Dove®’s way of expressing how much the company cares about the everyday woman; or is it? This campaign uses an amazing use of persuasion in its goal to widen the definition of the word beauty. It adds a new inner beauty or “true beauty” to your mind when you think of the word beauty. The Dove® campaign uses techniques of persuasion to cause conflict and debate in order to popularize their company image, encourage women to feel more confident in themselves, make changes in the beauty industry, and increase the sale of their products. The Dove® Campaign for Real Beauty serves as an exceptional representation of the many capabilities and applications of persuasion.
The most famous image from this campaign features six women. The women vary greatly in appearance. Unlike most women in magazines, these women lack makeup, stand in unique and “unattractive” poses, and are not in top physical condition. They stand casually and confidently wearing nothing but pure white underwear. The background behind them is a pure clean white as well creating a contrast that accents the details of the women’s skin. This ad is focused mainly at women. It creates an image that challenges our definition of beauty, and give confidence to girls who are overwhelmed by “beauty pressure”, or the pressure that society puts on women to look like models. The campaign urges women to be comfortable with the way you look and hold pride
in it because everyone is beautiful. Dove® tries to help younger girls with self-esteem problems as well, and have set the goal of reaching out to 15 million girls by 2015. The company accomplishes all of these wonderful things through the use of persuasion.
Persuasion is often thought of as being negative. People usually associate being persuaded with being duped or tricked, but persuasion can also be used for good. Dove® appeals to the emotional side of women to gain their support. After seeing the statistics, they realized that they could gain enough backing to make some real changes in the world and went for it. Dove® knows it could gain popularity you have to be blind to not realize that the images of women found in magazines and commercials are unrealistic. The company uses logos to appeal to the logic of its viewers, presenting an issue that women can logically choose sides of with ease. Dove® also appeals to the viewers ethics and emotions with the persuasive techniques ethos and pathos respectively. This crusade appears to be ethically correct. Women fighting the big fashion and advertisement companies to project a more realistic image for the average woman, who could object to such a noble cause? The most appeal of this campaign is generated by pathos. Studies show that 72% of women feel pressure from society to try to be beautiful. (Dove®, 2012) This feeling of beauty pressure results in millions of women with self-esteem problems. Dove® tries to help these poor girls with many outreach programs in their quest to broaden the definition of beauty. The image of millions of depressed pressured girls not achieving their full potential can be emotionally powerful, appealing to all viewers.
Dove® put an immense amount of effort into spreading this idea of true beauty. Along with magazine ads, the company produced a Super Bowl ad, a short film titled Evolution, workshops, events, and a play all to promote their new vision. Evolution has become one of the most watched ads of all time. This ad starts with an average looking woman and shows a time lapse of her many
layers of makeup and extensive digital enhancement as she becomes the model on the billboard for a competing cosmetic company. This ad was extremely effective for the campaign because it shows just how ridiculously “fake” the images of women shown in some advertisements can be. All of the marketing involved in this campaign makes it hard to think of beauty without thinking of Dove®.
The campaign experienced its first success in September 2006 when Spain banned overly thin models from their fashion runways. This victory shows how powerful an idea can be when combined with the correct usage of persuasion. The company caused major changes in the beauty industry and altered the way fashion designers choose their models. While Dove®’s strides in the fashion world are appreciable, their campaign’s greatest good is done in the hearts of women across the world.
Dove® intends to inspire and educate women about the broader definition of beauty and to not become upset with the minor hangups you may have about your appearance. The company shows the world that no one really looks like the women seen in popular advertisements through their ads like Evolution. This extremely empowering idea has helped countless women learn to appreciate themselves for how they are, and has removed the weight of beauty pressure from the shoulders of the average woman. While this campaign accomplished a plethora of good in terms of spreading positive ideas and helping women gain confidence, I find it hard to believe that a company would spend so much effort promoting something without some type of ulterior motive.
You may be thinking “what could a cosmetics company gain by promoting self confidence in appearance?”. The first year this campaign was released, Dove® sales rose 6% leading to a $500 million profit for the company.(Bloomberg Businessweek, 2008) With all the extra attention, it is easy to understand why sales would rise. Maybe the increase in sales is just a formality, and the company truly just wanted to make a stand for women everywhere. According to the May 12, 2008 issue of The New Yorker, the photos in Dove®’s campaign were as digitally manipulated as any skinny model-festooned fashion spread.(Bloomsberg Businessweek, 2008) The artist who performed the digital retouching, Pascal Dangin, came out confessing that “It was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.”(Pascal Dangin) Why would Dove® retouch the images in a campaign that fights against this exact practice. If Dove® lies about the photos, who knows what else they could be lying about. Do they really care about women’s problems at all?
Even if the company only cares about profit, it is undeniable that a multitude of change and benefits have come from this campaign. They brought an issue that was little talked about into the mainstream, they removed the beauty pressure that leads millions of girls to low self esteem, and they changed the way that many people look at women in advertising. The Dove® Campaign for Real Beauty demonstrates the immense power that persuasive techniques can hold. It uses the powers of persuasion to create controversy, empower women, and gain profit. No matter what the intentions behind Dove®’s campaign, it is irrefutable that persuasion can be a powerful weapon in any company’s arsenal.