Dove’s tough choices

The brand's marketing manager on the insights behind its latest campaign, which confronts women about their self-esteem.
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Dove Canada wants women to question the things that lead them to label themselves as anything less than beautiful in the latest iteration of its long-running “Real Beauty” platform.

In a new global campaign that launched in 72 countries this week, a short video filmed in five different countries shows what happens when women are confronted with a choice, having to enter a building through a door labelled “beautiful” or “average.”

While the women in the video are being forced to, perhaps uncomfortably, label themselves one way or the other, Diane Laberge, marketing manager at Dove Canada, says the idea behind the spot was to examine the factors that lead to women choosing to label themselves as “average” and what’s different on the days they choose to label themselves as beautiful. From there, the company hopes it will illuminate the things that lead to lower self-esteem and convince women to choose the things that make them feel beautiful every day.

“More than ever, what we’re trying to communicate is that feeling beautiful is a personal choice,” she says. “We want women to choose what makes them feel beautiful and choose it often, and really challenge their choice when they don’t choose beautiful. This is really about making it more personal and getting her to reconsider her choice.”

When developing the campaign, Dove compiled consumer research that found 96% of women do not use the word beautiful to describe themselves, despite 80% saying all women have something about them that is beautiful. In addition, 32% of women felt the biggest pressure on their appearance came from themselves.

“We know women have the personal and powerful ability to rise above the point of view of others, those on social media and images in pop culture,” Laberge says. “But they have to choose to.”

The campaign is launching in conjunction with a new Tumblr site that will allow users to share content and statistics related to the campaign. It also features a section of “tools” in the form of a series of videos with psychologist Dr. Nancy Etcoff and self-esteem expert Dr. Tara Cousineau discussing steps women can take to improve their self-image. The videos focus on mindfulness, the idea of being focused on one’s self, the compassion they show themselves and the choices they make every day and how that can lead to better self-esteem in themselves and others, even when someone is feeling down about themselves or being bombarded with media images.

“When it comes to their self-esteem, we know women are thirsty for knowledge,” Laberge says about the tools. “It needed to be really rooted in research, and across everything we do, we partner with experts from a body confidence perspective.”

In addition to being a platform that encourages content sharing, Laberge says Tumblr is a place where many users have formed subcultures around the body positivity movement and are already having many of the same conversations Dove wants to be a part of.

The message is also being incorporated into Dove’s in-store marketing in Canada and the company is running online banner ads that allow women to choose beautiful or average for themselves and drive to the video spot in an effort to choose beautiful, along with re-targeting to reach viewers who don’t watch the video until the end.

Ogilvy & Mather Chicago is leading the global campaign, with support from the agency’s Toronto office on the Canadian elements. Mindshare is handling the media buy.