Hitting The (Beauty) Mark?

Dove made a splash in 2004 with its Campaign for Real Beauty, becoming a hallmark cause marketing campaign and an inspiration for millions. Since then, Dove has been busy pulsing out videosvoting campaigns and even research reports challenging the definition of "beauty.”

Dove's newest installment of the Campaign for Real Beauty is again looking to expose the underside of beauty marketing – the unrealistic photo manipulation often present in ad campaigns – this time targeting creatives and art directors. Dove developed a Photoshop app called "Beautify” which claims to add a "healthy-glow” effect to a model's photo, but in reality reverts the image back to its original state – before the user erased imperfections – and ends with the message, "Don't manipulate our perceptions of real beauty.” The campaign has caused quite a stir, garnering headlines like "Dove Canada Uses Photoshop Trojan Horse to Shame Potential Body-Shamers.” The conversation on Twitter has followed suit, with more than 500 tweets* related to the campaign over the past two weeks. Many praised the clever campaign, tweeting, "Great campaign from @Dove on real beauty. Love the sneakiness to it,” while others raised questions about the campaign's aim: "Target decision makers, not creative.”

Dove's latest effort has undeniably put the spotlight back on the Campaign for Real Beauty and marks a campaign evolution – but some wonder if it misses the mark. The recent direction raises questions about whether this surreptitious approach is really appropriate for a brand espousing honesty and authenticity. Still others believe Dove's Real Beauty evolution should be less focused on superficial images and more on making real change. Forbes contributor Jonathan Salem Baskin went so far as to urge Dove to "elevate the marketing to become the operational guide for its business,” essentially advancing the "Real Beauty” philosophy to more robustly support women's issues, both internally and in the world at-large, from vendor selection to workplace policies.

What do you think? Is this newest iteration of Real Beauty on the mark? Let us know on Twitter using #ConeCSR.

*Based on a Radian6 search on 3/14/13 using a range of keywords including "Dove,” "Real Beauty,” "RealBeauty,” "Hack,” "Photoshop,” "Campaign,” and "#admakeover”


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