Women have grown to love Dove for the way the brand promotes self-acceptance and universal beauty. But the company’s latest campaign about feeling good is leaving a bad taste in many mouths for the way it uses the placebo effect to both delight and delude. HuffingtonPost.com and Time shed light on the controversial campaign that’s giving new meaning to the phrase “sticker shock” and leading many to wonder why Dove sacrificed truth in their promotion of true beauty.
For the past decade, Dove has used female empowerment and personal pride as their advertising angle. Their ongoing Real Beauty campaign has shown women that their beauty and bodies should be a source of satisfaction instead of struggle. Their last Real Beauty video featured a forensic artist who drew sketches of self-conscious women to prove that they were beautiful in the eyes of others. This video went on to become the fourth most-shared and eighth most-viewed video ad in history.
With their latest Real Beauty ad, Dove had psychologist and body image specialist Ann Kearney-Cooke ask real women to place a sticker-type patch on their arms that would naturally enhance how they perceived their beauty. Ultimately, the women were told that the patch would make them feel better about themselves and that their newfound confidence would shine through in more self-assured behavior.
While the women saw no difference at first, they soon claimed to be getting more compliments and feeling more confident.
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At the end of the study, the truth was revealed that these patches were only placebos and that any improvement in attitude or assurance wasn’t really caused by a magical medical patch, but was simply the result of the power of positive thinking.
While it’s nice that these women felt better about themselves, it wasn’t so nice of Dove to deceive the women in the name of science and for the sake of advertising.
And the backlash is just beginning. Many in the media think that Dove may have had good intentions, but their attempt to mislead was simply a poor move. Others believe that the ad paints women as very gullible and insults their intelligence.
Now that Dove has shown an unpleasant side of their Real Beauty campaign, hopefully the brand can learn that honesty is a beautiful thing.
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