Why Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ marketing campaign falls flat

Under Unilever, there are an array of businesses that offer consumer products to improve skin, hair and body regimens. One of those brands that have been fine-tuning communication with their target audience is Dove.

For more than 10 years, the bath and body company has produced commercials and vinyl signs to show that women should be more confident and that Dove is here to support that journey. While some print displays have fared well with the general public, its latest "Real Beauty" message doesn't because it makes women appear "too gullible, too desperate, and overall helpless," TIME Magazine contributor Laura Stampler explained.

The advertisement is similar to some of Dove's previous "Real Beauty" campaigns, including one where women use a patch called RB-X, that will create "Michelle Obama quality arms" within two weeks. After the trial period ended, each participant felt more comfortable in her skin and did activities she may have not done prior.

Now at its core, a patch to shrink the size of a woman's arms sounds extremely unrealistic and it is, according to Dove. By the end of the study, all subjects were notified that the RB-X was in fact a placebo and that the different behavior was all their own doing. The result of the study, which was intended to show that all women are beautiful regardless of what products they used, angered many according to Globe and Mail.

Despite the type of feedback Dove received from the latest "Real Beauty" marketing campaign, Unilever already scheduled to air the commercial in more than 50 nations. Sharon MacLeod, Unilever Vice President of Personal Care for North America noted why it is important to present this message, even if it might cause controversy.

"The way they look changes the way many women feel about themselves and the confidence they project," MacLeod, said. "Would I love to say it shouldn't matter to women? The truth is, it does."

This isn't the first time Dove launched a controversial marketing campaign. In March, Dove tried to take back the term "armpit" by displaying a vinyl banner in New Jersey, asking residents to think of it as a compliment. The public outrage caused Unilever, which is headquartered in New Jersey to take down all of these print displays.

Businesses that are looking to launch a marketing campaign, but have had difficulty creating a message that resonates with their target audience, should consider reaching out to a custom print service provider.