33.1 C
Tuesday, July 16, 2024

How Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign Challenged The Beauty Norms


The task of altering stereotypes and shifting people’s perspectives may appear insurmountable, but some have managed to achieve the seemingly impossible by challenging the status quo and influencing society. One such instance is the transformation brought about by Dove, a company that aimed to impact people’s self-esteem and change society’s perception of beauty.

It is a well-known fact that people, particularly women, tend to be overly critical of their physical appearance, comparing themselves to the unattainable beauty standards set by supermodels in the beauty industry. Dove, however, endeavored to shift this perspective by emphasizing that beauty comes in many forms and shapes, and cannot be limited to a single standard. To accomplish this, the company devised a long-term marketing strategy known as the Dove Real Beauty Campaign.

Origin Of The Campaign

In 2004, Dove embarked on a transformative journey by commissioning a study from StrategyOne, a New York-based research firm, titled “The real truth about Beauty: a global report.” The objective of the study was to delve into the meaning of beauty for women and the rationale behind it. The study was conducted through a phone survey that interviewed 3,200 women aged 18 to 64 from ten different countries.

The results of the study were eye-opening for Dove, revealing a concerning trend in women’s perception of their beauty. Only 2% of the surveyed women considered themselves “beautiful,” while a majority of 72% rated their beauty as “average.” Additionally, 68% of the women agreed strongly that “the media and advertising create unrealistic beauty standards that most women cannot achieve.” These findings highlighted the negative impact of the media’s portrayal of beauty on women’s self-esteem and confidence.

Moreover, 75% of the surveyed women expressed a desire for “the media to portray women of diverse physical attractiveness – shape, and size.” This finding showed that women were craving representation of diverse beauty standards in the media, highlighting the lack of inclusivity in the beauty industry.

Dove used these findings as a foundation to embark on a mission to redefine beauty standards and promote inclusivity. The study’s results served as a motivation for Dove’s long-term marketing campaign, the Dove Real Beauty Campaign, which aimed to empower women by celebrating their natural beauty and individuality.

The Campaigns Over The Years

Dove’s real beauty campaign began in 2004 and is an ongoing journey. In contrast to beauty ads that featured only supermodels with heavily modified pictures, Dove partnered with ad agency Ogilvy to launch its first campaign. The campaign showcased photographs of regular people of all ages, shapes, and sizes on billboards, accompanied by statements that invited people to join the beauty debate. Additionally, Dove published photographs of real women in white underwear in women’s magazines and on TV, which became viral and fueled the debate surrounding unrealistic beauty standards.

Dove’s Evolution ad, launched in 2006, is a short video that depicts the various processes involved in creating a beauty campaign image. The clip starts with a woman taking a seat, and we see how make-up artists and hairdressers transform her for a photoshoot. The photograph is then modified by designers, who narrow the nose, enlarge the eyes, erase hair, and more. The final picture is so different from the reality that it no longer looks like the model herself. The video ends with the statement, “No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted.”

Dove’s 2013 “real beauty sketches” campaign featured an FBI artist sketching women based on their self-descriptions. The video compared these sketches to ones made by strangers, highlighting the harsher and less accurate self-descriptions.


Dove’s marketing campaigns promoted self-esteem and diverse beauty, gaining immense popularity through word-of-mouth and talk shows. This led to free marketing coverage worth 150 million USD and increased brand awareness. Dove’s evolving process built a brand valued at 5.1 billion USD that challenged industry standards and promoted women’s self-esteem. The brand encouraged women to feel proud of how they looked and continues to empower them through the campaign.

This was how Dove built a brand around a single narrative that sparked a conversation and touched women all around the world. To discover more marketing marvels like this, keep exploring World Brand Affairs. We bring you the staggering stories of brands and personalities that made a mark with their innovative ideas and tactics.