Are you an apple or a pear? Dove would like to know. But social media users are less than thrilled to answer the question.
Dove, the personal care brand that has been championing beauty of all shades, shapes and sizes since 2004, has possibly jumped the shark with its latest marketing campaign: “Real Beauty Bottles” of Dove body wash that mimic a variety of body shapes.
Spearheaded by advertising giant Ogilvy London, the bottles, which are not for sale, appear in six different shapes, ranging from hourglass to tall and narrow. The idea behind it is that women can associate with the bottle shape they feel most aptly represents their body type.
“As a brand, Dove has long celebrated real women and real beauty highlighting different ages, shapes, sizes and ethnicities in our campaigns,” Leslie Golts, marketing manager, skin cleansing and Dove masterbrand at Unilever Canada (Dove’s parent company), told Global News. “The intent of the limited-edition bottles was to symbolically represent the fact that beauty comes in many shapes and sizes.”
The marketing campaign was merely created for “activation and to celebrate Real Beauty,” she says.
In a company statement, Dove said that their Global Beauty and Confidence Report revealed one in two women feels pressured by social media to look a certain way.
“To spread this diversity message even further, we created these exclusive body wash bottles.”
While the campaign launched in Canada in late February, it didn’t make nearly the waves it’s making now that it has been unveiled south of the border. Social media users, it seems, don’t share Dove’s viewpoint on choosing a bottle of body wash that mirrors your body type.
“The ‘Real Beauty Bottles’ is one of those rare ideas which condenses decades of a brand’s legacy in two seconds,” Andre Laurentino, global executive creative director at Unilever, Ogilvy UK, said on the company’s website. “It’s deceivingly simple and quite nuanced: a message about our body conveyed by Dove bottles themselves.”
The question remains, however: do these bottles empower women or make them feel more self-conscious by forcing them to identify with a particular shape?
As Ian Bogost says in The Atlantic, Dove relies on mixing reason with emotion, but the bottles may actually work against their ultimate message of body positivity and acceptance.
“To her chagrin, now she must choose between pear- and hourglass-shaped soap. She must also present this proxy for a body — the one she has? the one she wishes she did? — to a cashier to handle and perhaps to judge. What otherwise would have been a body-image-free trip to the store becomes a trip that highlights body-image.”
As one Twitter user summed it up: