Dove’s new line of soaps negate its decade-long effort to support women. Big time.
Marketing is a tricky business. You can easily chalk up all (okay, some) of the drinking problems on “Mad Men” to its many challenges. Most notably, it’s that task in walking the fine line where creativity meets reality to convey more than just tedious product facts and less than just human expression. It’s the marriage of rhyme and reason, quite literally.
When it works, marketing has the power to change the world (“Just Do It”). When it fails, of course, it can bring a brand to its knees. (Urban Outfitters Kent State Sweatshirt, anyone?)
We recently saw how PepsiCo butchered its purported homage to #BlackLivesMatter with super white, super rich, super beautiful Kendall Jenner triggering world peace by simply slipping a cold soda into the hands of a policeman. If only we’d known it was that simple sooner.
Then there’s Dove, which earned praise for its “Real Beauty” campaign that helped us embrace women of all colors, sizes, and shapes (the campaign celebrates its tenth anniversary this year). It was a welcome reprieve from the Kendalls of the world telling us what to buy, even if the product is full of chemicals that pose serious threats to the bodies it claims to be championing. Or it’s produced in sweat shops. Supports child labor. Damages the environment. You could say that perhaps Dove (and our other corporate overlords) is perhaps projecting a bit of its own inadequacies by obsessively telling us our bodies are just fine.
Now, Dove London has launched a new campaign, and one that ought to make you feel like you need a hot shower. (Go have at it. I’ll wait.) It designed a limited-edition series of bottles to represent the many human female forms. They’re a lumpy, strange-looking lot that don’t look a thing like most women I know.
“Each bottle evokes the shapes, sizes, curves and edges that combine to make every woman their very own limited edition. They’re one of a kind–just like you. But sometimes we all need reminding of that,” the company said in a statement.
Dove pats itself on the back citing its own research “from the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report” that reportedly revealed that “one in two women feels social media puts pressure on them to look a certain way.”
This isn’t new information, of course. We know social media can obfuscate the truth, particularly about how people really look or spend their time. But is a lumpy bottle that’s not going to fit in your shower caddy the solution? Is any woman really going to Stuart Smalley herself every time she lathers up?
Marketing a product in our likenesses to tell us “we’re okay” is like some sort of shitty consolation prize. “You’re not a Kardashian (or Kate Middleton), but we made you this soap bottle that kind of looks like your funny body!”
That’s a gift I’d expect (and treasure the heck out of) from my three-year-old. It’s not something I need from a soap company.
Buying a bottle of this body wash isn’t like choosing the right haircut for your face type of business (round faces, bobs are in for you this season). This is a distillation of our bodies into a gimmicky recyclable package filled with cheap and even toxic sludge. For profit, mind you.
Dove, women don’t need to be Muppetified to harness their self esteem. If you really want to show us how much you care about our awesomeness, take a cue from Dr. Bronner’s. Actually, take several cues — not just on the clean, ethical, and safe soap ingredients valued by Bronner’s and its loyal customers, but on how to support social justice, environmental, and human health issues. And definitely take a peek at those iconic Bronner bottle designs. Because you’re going to need to fix yours.
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