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a. Critically analyze the factors that resulted in the success of the Dove “Campaign
for real beauty”. Do you think that Unilever can sustain this campaign over the long
run without being considered as a brand for “fat women”, as suggested by a few critics?

Suggested answer

For too long, beauty had been defined by narrow, stifling stereotypes. Women had told Dove
that it was time to change all that. Dove listened to their customers. It believed real beauty
came in many shapes, sizes and ages. That is why Dove had launched the campaign for Real

The Dove campaign manifesto

The message of the campaign: Real beauty could only be found on the inside and every
woman deserved to feel beautiful. The image that Dove wanted to create: Real beauty was
portrayed by women who did not have "runway model" on their resumes and they were the
women passing by in grocery aisles or sitting in the office next door.

But before Unilever committed to the campaign, it secured evidence that the majority of their
consumers would relate to it. "The Real Truth about Beauty," a global research report
commissioned by Dove, reported that no women described themselves as gorgeous, 9% said
they were comfortable and only 2% thought they're beautiful. As for the others, about 29%
rate their beauty as average. Meanwhile, nearly half the women globally and 60% of U.S.
women said their weight was "too high." 68% of the respondents answered that the media and
advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women felt they could never

A Revolutionary Campaign

The campaign‟s mission was to make more women feel beautiful everyday by widening
stereotypical views of beauty. To accomplish this, the campaign deviated from the typical
trend of highlighting “beautiful” skinny models. Instead, Unilever featured “real” and
average women. They used a mix of print, TV and billboard ads, along with many social and
new media strategies. The ads were also placed in highly visible spot like major
transportation hubs and on the sides of buses.

This was what set Dove apart from other brands. Its beauty campaigns touched a cultural
nerve by challenging the current super-thin, silky-hair, perfect skin standard. The Dove
campaign used real women instead of professional models. The women in the print ads
ranged in age from 22 to 95 and a covered a variety of sizes. In the American ads the women
ranged in dress size from 6 to 12. The campaign spurred conversations in the media and
among product consumers. Ultimately Dove's brand image grew because people began
associating concepts of true beauty with Dove and its products.

The website,, was littered with features such as discussion
boards, interactive advertisements where you could vote on the ads and receive the running
tally of the results, as well as access to the full Global Report, all lending to the campaign a
purely democratic feel which boosted the notion that they were all about supporting women.
In addition Dove had created the Self-Esteem Fund in partnership with Girl Scouts of
America entitled “Uniquely Me!” which helped build confidence in girls of ages 8-17 years.
The Self-Esteem Fund also supported Body Talk, an educational program for schools to boost
their self-esteem. All this appeared very altruistic.

The success of the Dove campaign had also been its agility in widening scope without
increasing much cost and entering popular culture through new media. In Dove's case, brand
images powered by new media were co-constructed by the company and its consumers. Dove
used billboard to ask their consumers to help create the Self-Esteem Campaign that had
brought more attention to the Campaign for Real Beauty and ultimately transformed a
model's features into an ethereal face. Dove's message and story then migrated to the
entertainment media. The spot played on TV shows such as "Ellen," "Oprah Winfrey"; aired
at Super Bowl and published on the cover page of „People‟ magazine. Dove, the brand with a
point of view, now had customers with a point of view through this unconventional approach
in the beauty industry. After the campaign, sales in 2nd business quarter rose by 11.4%.Total
sales for Dove brand rose 6% to US $.5 bn. Number of people visiting Dove website rose by
200%. Number of calls to consumer call center had also increased.


The Dove competition yielded positive results because the Campaign for Beauty had
embedded the brand's true beauty message in the public mind. 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 that all women can own and enjoy every day. The campaign
differentiated Dove from others and was successful in generating a huge buzz in the media.

Safe campaign over the long run

Armed with significant market research done within their global target, Dove embarked on
changing the face of their brand. The research delved into the psyche of women, their target,
and discovered that women were disheartened by the beauty industry‟s constant assault on
their self-esteem. The research showed that the impossible beauty standard depicted in
current marketing made women feel inferior and unattractive.

Unlike their competition that falsely promised unattainable beauty, Dove‟s „Campaign for
Real Beauty‟ position was that their potential users were already beautiful. This position
allowed them to emotionally connect to their consumers thereby facilitating a positive
„customer-brand relationship‟. Dove understood that women liked to be complimented and
validated in relationships, a role which they were willing to play. They concentrated not on
functional aspect but on the need for customers to feel good about themselves while using the

The use of „real women‟ in their messaging to sell products to „ordinary women‟ was
consistent and effective. They invited people to vote whether these real women were "fab" or
"fat. While "fat" eventually logged the most votes, Dove decided to take the concept a step
further and talk about self-esteem. Women‟s self-esteem issues were deep enough and
complex enough that Dove could ride this positioning strategy comfortably for the
foreseeable future. Their positioning shifted from focusing on superior product attributes to a
larger and broader personality platform that seeks to challenge the definition of true beauty.
Dove‟s aim was never really objectifying and taunting women with impossible beauty.

The campaign had raised the profile of the brand and that many women connected with the
ads. It was believed that Dove‟s focus on real women would appeal to the average female
consumer. The reward was that it would sell more of its products. Unilever‟s campaign
motives were focused toward becoming the preferred brand for a larger segment of women,
in order to remain a successful brand in the long run.


Unilever‟s Campaign for Real Beauty was a calculated and deliberate way to increase Dove‟s
product sales. The successful “Campaign for Real Beauty” was the result of good market
research. Unilever‟s strategy required that their brand‟s status be internally and externally
evaluated in order to create a functional marketing plan for Dove. The external assessment, or
market research, that they conducted unearthed trends within the psyche of women, their
target audience. This profitable campaign just also happened to lend itself to broader positive
social implications.