Dove’s 'Choose Beautiful' Campaign Splits UK Public Opinion

Illustration of woman washing hair with Dove brand shampoo

Last week Dove released a film called Choose Beautiful heading up their latest global marketing campaign. The beauty giant visited five different cities (San Francisco, Shanghai, Delhi, London and Sao Paolo) and presented two entrance options for women based on how they perceive themselves. One door was labelled “Beautiful” and the other “Average”. According to Dove, the short film was made to inspire women to see themselves as beautiful. An empowering celebration of femininity? Or underhand tactic to sell product? Our Lab Reporter investigates.

I was totally torn when I watched Dove’s Choose Beautiful film. Part of me thought, go Dove; let’s hear it for the girls! Choose beautiful. What a great initiative. The other slightly more cynical part felt very uncomfortable. When push comes to shove this is all about Dove selling Dove, and they have very publicly played on women’s insecurities to do so. Bad form!

If my thoughts are anything to go by I think that Dove could be in trouble here. Let’s get a little customer feedback from our lovely research panel ladies shall we.

Starting with the good news, of the Product Lab women who would have walked through the Average door, 31% felt empowered and agreed that they would walk through the Beautiful door after watching the Choose Beautiful film. ‘I think it is an excellent video. It gives ladies more self-confidence and is telling them that everyone is beautiful in their own way. Why not go through the beautiful door? If you feel beautiful then you are beautiful!’

I can’t deny I go a bit of shower gel gooey about that. And if our women now choosing beautiful do the same whilst passing toiletries aisle in Boots, more’s the better hey Dove?

Unfortunately, it all goes downhill from there with 32% of our female research panelists saying that the Dove film made them feel self conscious and 16% even sad. ‘I think the choice puts us in an awkward position. We don't need to choose between average and beautiful but should accept ourselves for what we are, faults and all.’ Oh dear. I don’t think that’s the reaction that Dove was going for.

So, what’s the damage? Well, before seeing the film, 96% of UK female consumers either loved or liked the Dove brand leaving only 4% who hate it. Pretty impressive in itself. After seeing the film however, the number of panelists who hate the brand rose to 8% and the ‘love it’ percentage dropped. ‘The use of the film has just lowered Dove in my estimation - I used to like them, now I do not. Putting women to the test like this is terrible.’ Ek!

How to conclude? It’s a difficult one. Dove has indeed lost a little UK favour with the Choose Beautiful campaign but with a 92% brand buy in remaining, not to mention mass publicity, I think they’ll survive. I would suggest they avoid walking this kind of sensitive tight rope again mind. Us UK ladies might not be so forgiving next time. Word to the wise, we do not like being objectified for commercial gain. ‘Beauty is more than skin deep.’

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The Independent: Dove’s powerful #ChooseBeautiful campaign reveals 96% of women consider themselves average looking

The Guardian: Sorry Dove. empowerment isn’t a personal care product

Mashable UK: Powerful Dove experiment shows how women can choose to feel beautiful

Marketing Magazine: Dove challenges women to 'choose beautiful'

Adweek: Dove's Latest Film Makes Women Choose If They Are 'Beautiful' or 'Average' But is the concept overly simplified?

Daily Mail: Watch what happens when women are forced to choose between walking through doors marked 'average' or 'beautiful'...

Huffington Post: Dove's 'Choose Beautiful' Campaign Says Women Are So Much More Than Average

Metro: Inspiring new Dove campaign encourages women to appreciate their unique beauty

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About the Author

  • Stephanie Kent

    Stephanie Kent - Lab Reporter

    Our dedicated Lab Panel blogger, Steph is the voice of the consumer. From mortgages to special fried rice, if you want to know what the UK thinks, she's your girl. With a formidable background in both business and retail journalism Steph invites the Lab Panel to speak out about the latest consumer trends to hit the headlines. She reports the facts back to you, bringing the panellists to life with her own unique, quirky tone. We can't wait to read her blogs… and we know how they end.


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