Unilever's "Real Beauty" Campaign for Dove

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG155
Case Length : 27 Pages
Period : 2004-2006
Organization : Unilever Plc.
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : Europe, USA
Industry : FMCG (Personal Care)

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"We want to challenge the definition of beauty. We believe that beauty has become too narrow in definition. We want to defy the stereotype that only the young, blond and tall are beautiful."1

- Philippe Harousseau, Dove's marketing director, in January 2005.

"No doubt, the rewards will be huge. In just a month, this campaign has significantly raised the profile of the brand(Dove); legions of women are looking to reward Dove for taking the step away from hollow-cheeked models by stocking their bathroom cabinets with Dove products."2

- Martha Berletta, author, Marketing to Women, in September 2005.

"They might get the consumer's attention but only briefly. Using real people in ad campaigns cannot work in the long-term because the job of advertising is to create fantasy images that people will aspire for. People want to escape from reality. I personally think women will want to be more fashionably South Beach than overweight middle America. Who wants to see a big butt on a billboard? I personally think that these are compensation ads for the country's ever increasing obesity issue and gives out the message that it is ok if you are fat."3

- Gerald Celente, Director of the Trends Research Institute4, in September 2005.

Defying Beauty Stereotypes

In June 2005, consumer products major Unilever launched an ad campaign in the US for its Dove Intensive Firming5 range (Firming range) of products.

This campaign, which featured regular women (non-models), was part of Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" (CFRB).

According to the company, the main purpose of CFRB was to challenge the stereotypes set by the beauty industry over the years. The beauty industry, it was felt, had showcased an image of women, too perfect for most women to aspire for.

The CFRB was launched as a global campaign by Unilever in September 2004 to promote its Dove range of personal care products. The Dove brand was one of Unilever's leading personal care brands, with products like soap, body-wash, shampoo, etc.

The stated aim of the campaign was to act as a catalyst to broaden the definition of beauty and encourage discussion about its aspects. Unilever's consumer research studies had indicated that beauty advertising was out of sync with its consumers.

Beauty advertisers bombarded consumers with idealized images of models, super-models and celebrities, which left the consumers feeling bad about their own body image and hurt their self-esteem. These insights prompted Unilever to launch a campaign in the early part of 2004 in Europe featuring non-models. The ads were for its Dove Firming Lotion (Firming Lotion) and featured six women of various body types.

Unilever's "Real Beauty" Campaign for Dove - Next Page>>

1] "Embracing Real Beauty," www.ad-rag.com, January 18, 2005.

2] Martha Berletta, "Why Dove is Lucky to be Known as 'The Fat Brand'," www.adage.com, September 19, 2005.

3] Sudha Menon, "Big, Real, and Beautiful," www.thehindubusinessline.com, September 01, 2005.

4] The Trends Research Institute helps identify future trends that could impact businesses and governments. It was founded in 1980 by Gerald Celente, a renowned trends analyst, author, and public speaker.

5] This is a product that claims to make the bodies of women firmer and reduce the appearance of cellulite. Cellulite is the word used to refer to the fatty deposits that cause a dimpled or uneven appearance of the skin, usually around the thighs and buttocks. (Source: www.glossary-of-terms.net/glossary-of-cosmetics-terms.html)


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