Running head: CASE STUDY
Case Study: Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty
CASE STUDY 2
Case Study: Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty
Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty started out with a global study based on beauty. The
campaign utilized a statistic from the study which states that only two percent of women
consider themselves beautiful (Dove). They strategically used this statistic to get a conversation
started about beauty. Dove has shed light on the idea that certain aspects of the media’s portrayal
of beauty are unattainable. Instead of focusing on unrealistic body standards, Dove focuses on
self-esteem and happiness. Doing so has both increased their sales of products and the
confidence of women. Dove really knows their target audience. They segment the audience by
both gender and age. Women – old and young – are being recognized in Dove’s various
advertisements and projects. The aim of this campaign is to celebrate the different physiques of
women and cherish those unique qualities.
Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty has been a success for a variety of reasons. For
starters, the company’s channel selection was very smart. They attacked social media as a whole,
starting conversations on Facebook and YouTube. Dove encouraged people to join in the
movement by sharing their stories online. Their YouTube advertisement, Dove Real Beauty
Sketches, generated over 160 million views worldwide. The advertisement emotionally tied
viewers to the brand, by being both relatable and empowering. The Real Beauty Campaign has
also included the Ad Makeover App, where you can displace feel-bad ads on Facebook with
positive quotes like “be your beautiful self” (Best Marketing, 2015). Dove overbid negative
search terms like “I hate my body” and “plastic surgery” so that during the launch of the
campaign, Dove’s positive ads would be displayed instead. Ultimately, Dove has ignited a fire in
the marketing world and beyond, as will be discussed below.
CASE STUDY 3
1. Did the Dove campaign accurately assess the perceived barriers of their target audience
in their Real Beauty campaign?
2. What were the intended objectives of the Dove campaign and how were they
3. How did Dove go about creating competitive superiority? What appeals were used?
4. Are there any ways in which Dove’s campaign has been unsuccessful? What
controversies have been raised?
Response to Discussion Questions
1. Overall, the Dove campaign accurately assessed the perceived barriers of the target
audience. Many women feel like they are not beautiful, and feel like they are all alone.
Dove recognized this fear and made it completely normal to acknowledge these beliefs
and unite with other women. Dove also hit upon one’s need for affirmation. Ultimately,
Dove is not just selling soap and lotion, but rather acceptance and validation.
From their bold advertisements with normal-sized models wearing their real
curves, Dove immediately puts out an image of strength and pride. They squashed the
stigma that comes with talking about beauty. Because many people are afraid to publicly
announce their self-esteem issues, Dove created an online forum where people can get
advice and read lifestyle articles. Dove created a voice for people on the shyer side, and
utilized social media platforms to spread awareness. Instead of verbally pledging to love
themselves, people can write #ChooseBeautiful online via social media and instantly be
surrounded by thousands of others doing the same thing. Dove has a YouTube channel
CASE STUDY 4
where people can watch videos about confidence, as well as Facebook and Twitter pages.
Additionally, Dove brings the support directly to their consumers. Dove hosts self-esteem
workshops for young girls, and provides online toolkits for those looking to help others in
their community. Dove has made sharing one’s opinion and making a positive impact on
others much easier.
2. Dove had quite a few objectives for their campaign. Firstly, there was a major behavior
objective in which the company wanted to increase sales of Dove beauty products. They
did so by creating an entirely new image for the brand – an image of confidence and a
more truthful beauty. Dove started out with a bang, putting up billboards around the
world of regular women in undergarments – not your average models. These
advertisements were interactive, as passers-by could vote on whether the photo was
“wrinkled or wonderful”, “fat or fab” (Russell, 2014). The results of the questions were
updated and displayed on the billboard, ultimately shoving the question of beauty in the
Hand in hand, both behavior and belief objectives were utilized to attain their
goals. Dove increased media coverage, created a strong social media campaign, and made
unique commercials. Ads were seen on billboards, magazines, television, and the internet.
Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty was discussed on talk shows like The Ellen Show and
Good Morning America. Not only did they incorporate opinion leaders like Oprah and
Ellen into the discussion, but one of their commercials aired during the Super Bowl for
millions to see. Dove also wanted to create discussion about the meaning of beauty. This
was achieved by creating blog spaces and activities on the Campaign for Real Beauty
website, so consumers could support the movement and have a safe space to talk.
CASE STUDY 5
3. Dove somewhat utilized a benefit to cost superiority in which they emphasized the
benefits of their products. They have repositioned themselves from a beauty brand to a
personal care brand. Dove also created partnerships with Girls & Boys Club of America,
Girl Scouts, and other organizations to start discussions about body image and positivity.
In doing so, they have created a positive image of the brand. Every other beauty brand
would therefore be viewed as bad for presenting unrealistic portrayals of beauty.
Additionally, Dove encourages people to get involved with the Self Esteem Project, and
provides resources for the community about bullying and body image. Dove sneakily
places themselves above other brands by presenting themselves as “do-gooders”.
Consumers like to feel like they are being morally correct and ethical, so Dove’s
campaign fits well with one’s need to promote positivity and be socially responsible. The
campaign’s positive emotional appeals and logical appeals have ultimately helped to
create support for their products.
4. Many of Dove’s critics were first to point out their association with hypocritical
companies. The brand’s owner, Unilever, is the parent company of Slim Fast, Axe, and
Fair & Lovely Skin-lightening Cream. These other brands/products owned by Unilever
sell a negative image of beauty and materialism. Slim Fast has been criticized for its
image about the necessity of being thin, while Axe has been given the cold shoulder for
being sexist. Fair & Lovely Skin-lightening Cream encourages dark-skinned women in
other countries to become more Western – ultimately telling them that their natural
beauty is not good enough. With such contradictory messages, Dove has received a bit of
backlash. Having said that, I think that the negativity should be redirected toward
CASE STUDY 6
Unilever, as it is the owner of such conflicting brands. Dove does not have control over
the branding image of Unilever’s other companies.
Putting the Unilever issue aside, Dove has still faced some criticism. Dove’s
products have been criticized for putting out conflicting messages. While they sell soap
and body wash that nourish one’s natural beauty, they also sell firming creams –
ultimately suggesting that cellulite needs to go. Others say that Dove’s advertisements
only focus on a small subset of women. However, from the beginning Dove has shown
women of different body types in their ads. They have also expanded their reach by
showing women of different ages and ethnicities. Either way, whether the response is
positive or negative, Dove is provoking society to talk about female empowerment. Since
the launch of Dove’s campaign in 2004, other companies have begun to talk about
beauty, power, and feminism. Always has come out with its “#LikeaGirl” movement that
challenges the negative connotation associated with the phrase “you throw like a girl”,
while Pantene has moved toward a “#NotSorry” direction, highlighting the fact that
women tend to over-apologize in situations (Russell, 2014).
CASE STUDY 7
Case study: Dove’s ‘Ad Makeover’ brings positive ad messages (and overbidding) to Facebook.
(2015). Retrieved from http://www.best-marketing.eu/dove-ad-makeover-case-study/
Lee, N. R., & Kotler, P. (2011). Social marketing: Influencing behaviors for good (4th ed.). Los
Angeles, CA: Sage. ISBN: 978-1-41298149.
Russell, M. (2014, July 9). How Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty Ushered in New Age of
Female Empowerment. Retrieved from
The Dove® Campaign for Real Beauty. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.dove.us/Social-