Dove: PSA or Ad?
Posted by Rosepixie on September 26, 2009
This is a Dove ad that has gotten a lot of attention, both praise and criticism.
I like the idea they were going for here, because they’re right that the beauty industry is incredibly harmful to girls and women and those images and messages are unimaginably damaging. However, Dove is unquestionably part of the beauty industry. They sell beauty products and this was an ad. Ostensibly it’s an ad for a self-esteem program on their website, but they wouldn’t have made it with the name “Dove” all over it the way it is if they weren’t also trying to get viewers to think about their products and see them favorably. If you go to the website, the main pictures in the middle are all about self-esteem, which is great, but the first link at the top is for their products and there’s a big ad along the side stating that if you enter the UPC from one of their products they will donate $1 to a self-esteem program.
I’m not terribly fond of “buy our stuff and we’ll donate to this charity” promotions. Dove has buckets of money. If they were truly serious about donating a meaningful amount of money to these programs, they wouldn’t tie it to people buying their products. They aren’t in need of customers, they have plenty of them (even I buy their stuff), so it’s not like they need to tie it to sales this way to make the donation possible. They don’t. And how many customers do you think realistically go and enter that code? Again, if they really meant it, they could donate for every sale, not every customer who manages to learn about the program, buy a product and bother to go enter a code on the website. I just have trouble seeing it as real charity when it’s got so many weird strings like this for no real good reason.
So, I kind of wandered off topic from the ad itself there, but I think it all ties back to the same idea. Dove is marketing an idea that they don’t really seem to be behind. They say they’re encouraging “real beauty”, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman over maybe size 12 in their ads and I know I’ve never seen a woman with a visible disability or anything like that. So their definition of “real” beauty still seems pretty conventional. And I have trouble taking their dire warnings about the beauty industry seriously (even though they are absolutely right about it) when they are part of that very same industry and filled the ad with the very images they are supposedly against. The message is great and if this exact same video had been produced as a public service announcement or by an advocacy group I’d be all for it, but as it is, I’m deeply skeptical of it because it’s made by the very industry it’s saying is evil.