It’s so frustrating to watch a brand that you admire do daft things.
But Dove has done just that with their new "Real Beauty Bottles" packaging – six limited edition bottles supposedly reflecting the different body shapes of UK women.
It’s not difficult to see how an idea like this was bought and sold: It is on-brand for Dove. It extends the ‘real-beauty’ idea into an interesting packaging initiative. It also ‘celebrates’ the body-shape of real women rather than perpetuating the idealised shape of airbrushed models.
On paper, I’m sure this made a lot of sense. But nobody seems to have stopped to think whether point of purchase is the right environment in which to confront people with their own body shape.
For argument's sake, let’s say I’m a 25-year-old, pre-obese, single woman. I hate my body. I’m unhappy because I’m fat, so I eat for comfort. Diets start every Monday and are over by Thursday at the latest (at lunchtime, having a Dunkin Donuts two doors away from Itsu really doesn’t help).
Whilst browsing in Boots, I’m confronted by Dove wanting to ‘celebrate my body shape’. I’m nothing if not self-aware so I buy ‘the fat one’. Dove has probably called it the "pear-shaped" one, but we all know which it really is.
I take it to the counter. The skinny 18-year-old assistant sniggers. It might have been about something else, but it was probably at me. Worse still, I buy the ‘tall, skinny one’ and she gives me a look to suggest I’ve bought the wrong one – I haven’t felt like this since the school changing room. Either way, I take the bottle home and put it in the bathroom as a constant reminder of my roundness whenever I’m naked in the shower. Like I need another reminder!
Either way, I take the bottle home and put it in the bathroom as a constant reminder of my roundness whenever I’m naked in the shower. Like I need another reminder!
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Dove brand. As a planner, I wish I’d come up with the campaign for the "Real beauty" idea. But it is an idea that hasn’t been executed with any momentum for quite some years now.
Brands can’t take for granted a lasting memory of their central purpose in the minds of real people.
Whilst the marketing team may spend every waking hour thinking about ways to fight the good fight, real people don’t really care that much. They probably think Dove makes their skin feel nice and they quite like the smell.
The "Real beauty" campaign is a distant memory, if that.
This particular execution of the Dove campaign lacks context and has no redeeming features. It simply leaves me hoping that my daughter chooses a different brand.
Giselle Okin is a brand strategist and the founder of Opinionated Thinking