Paul M. Banas on Consumer Insights, Marketing Research, and the Digital Media Landscape
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Best in Consumer Insights: Dove Real Beauty Campaign

It doesn’t take a market researcher to understand that the fashion and beauty industry over the years was selling an ideal on how a woman should look that was completely out of step with the vast majority of women. The industry’s focus on an beauty ideal that only applied to a very small number of women had been criticized and held up for ridicule.

But underneath the jokes, there was also a significant amount of resentment that women felt about all these unrealistic beauty standards being broadcast across all forms of media.

The marketers at Unilever recognized this resentment and turned it into an insight that they outlined in a new brand manifesto for their Campaign for Real Beauty:

For too long, beauty has been defined by narrow, stifling stereotypes. Women have told us it’s time to change all that. Dove agrees. We believe real beauty comes in many shapes, sizes and ages. That is why Dove is launching the Campaign for Real Beauty.

Dove’s global Campaign for Real Beauty aims to change the status quo and offer in its place a broader, healthier, more democratic view of beauty. A view of beauty that all women can own and enjoy everyday.

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The amount of viral buzz this campaign created since its launch in 2005 has been incredible. Additionally, it also led to double digit growth for an already mature brand.


1 Steve Mills { 01.06.08 at 11:09 pm }

This could backfire though, i mean they are being a bit hypocritical as they are the ones that helped to propagate the unreal image of women before this campaign

But then again, i suppose that is part of what is driving the buzz..

2 Paul M. Banas { 01.07.08 at 6:29 am }


I agree that it could backfire if they come across later as anything less then truly genuine or transparent. To date though, it seems they have been fairly committed to the concept.

It will be interesting to see if the beauty and fashion industry as a whole jumps on the bandwagon as well. Haven’t seen that as yet.



3 Bayo Adekanmbi { 01.24.08 at 5:38 am }

Dove campaign is a classical case of insight-driven campaign that explored how a brand can address a contradiction to establish meaning and trigger affinity.
I have always believed that a brand is a product which has earned a place in consumers’ lives by “massaging” consumers’ ego or sense of self until a mental relationship is built.
“Exploiting” the research fact that 2% of women worldwide considered themselves beautiful is a great way to become the champion of the remaining 98% using a compelling philosophy that “Real beauty come from within”
Great work. I throway salute!!!

4 Paul M. Banas { 01.24.08 at 6:00 am }

I like your point about “addressing a contradiction to establish meaning”.

A rich insight area for marketers and brand researchers has always been those tension points between an actual behavior and the consumer or societal perceptions that surround it.



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