The Dove Brand’s Women of Real Beauty

Dove Wordmark (Public Domain)

The Dove brand, with advertising and creative inspiration from Ogilvy & Mather, has been on a years-long campaign to change perceptions of beauty, encouraging women to understand and celebrate both their inner beauty and their physical presence. This global effort has manifest itself in many forms and formats over the past few years, but few pieces have had the emotional power of this 2013 brief film. In it, a trained police sketch artist pencils two portraits of everyday women without seeing them. The first portrait is based on the woman’s own description of herself. The second upon that of an acquaintance, describing the first woman’s looks.

The differences — portraits of the same woman by the same artist but based on two different descriptions – are both striking and surprising, revealing much about how women can become self-critically captive of society’s conventions around beauty . The piece concludes with a presentation of the two portraits to the subject and their touching and insightful responses. “I never knew” and “I’ve got some work to do” are among the insights gained from the exercise. These women are, as the title proposes, “more beautiful than [they] think.”

This campaign, which has won nearly every major creative award worldwide and originated in the agency’s Brazil office, is another excellent example of how compelling and relevant advertising can be when unshackled from the 30-second constraints of network television.

Steve Harty

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