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SLBTM: Unilever/Dove’s ‘real beauty’***

October 14, 2007 | Advertising,Ethics,Parenting,PR,SLBTM


You’ve probably seen this advertisement, brought to you by good global citizen Unilever, maker of Dove products and mastermind behind the Campaign for Real Beauty, which launched in September 2004. Not only did ads show not-size-2 models to inspire positive self-image in women, they were supposed to “support a wider definition of beauty.” The campaign started a program with the Girl Scouts of the USA to “foster self-esteem among girls ages 8 to 17.” And, oh yeah, the ads were supposed to sell skin-firming cream. Hence, the slogan, “Stand Firm and Celebrate Your Curves.” Stand firm. Get it?

Then came the viral video Evolution that Unilever placed on YouTube. Then there was Pro-age. Now we have Onslaught, which warns, “Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does.” Yeah. Or before Unilever does. Watch Onslaught carefully. It will look familiar in a minute.

Unilever has your cake and eats it too

Apparently for boys ages 8 to 17 (and beyond), however, Unilever uses the “Axe Effect” — complete with V.I.X.E.N.S. (Very Interactive Xtremely Entertaining Naughty Supermodels). After watching the introduction by the naughty maid, who spanked herself with a spatula for being bad (oh, and I can make her spank herself again … and again … and again …), I tried to download the interactive video game, which comes with voice recognition so you can “command” the V.I.X.E.N.S. to do what you want. Either they can tell I’m not a 12-year-old boy or every 12-year-old boy in the world is trying to download it at the same time.

I moan

I did get to the point of getting the application on my computer, when “Naomi” and friends chatted with me for a bit.

“Hi, I’m Naomi. And you know what that spells backwards.” (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

But to make up for not getting the video game, I was able to enjoy the Bom Chicka Wah Wahs, who don’t need no stinkin’ self-affirming firming cream because they’re already a size 2. They don’t need no stinkin’ Campaign for Real Beauty because they’ve already perfected the “O” face while pole dancing, shaking the tassels on their lingerie and crawling like cats. Meow.


Hat tip: Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

***SLBTM = Smells Like Bullshit To Me

Updated to add: Bob Garfield wrote a review in the Oct. 8, 2007, Advertising Age, “‘Onslaught’ is a triumph — if you don’t count the hypocrisy.” That’s the headline in the magazine. Online it’s “Dove’s New ‘Onslaught’ Ad a Triumph.” He sings the praises of the ad, saying that it “should get an Oscar,” and “Standing ovation here.”

A worthy cause, a brilliant strategy, a flawless video. It all amounts to something very close to perfection. So, yes, absolutely, four stars.

Just when I started squirming, he dropped this bomb.

Damn, if it just weren’t for the nagging hypocrisy of it all.

He went on to explain that Dove is a brand from Unilever, which also manufactures and markets the Axe/Lynx brand and Slim-Fast. As for the public-relations firm that produced the video, Ogilvy & Mather, “in a bit of horrifying/delicious irony,” he said, is the U.S. agency for the Barbie doll (Mattel).

(Originally posted Oct. 11, 2007)

Posted by Becky @ 3:00 pm  

3 Responses to “SLBTM: Unilever/Dove’s ‘real beauty’***”

  1. mayberry Says:

    Ewww–EWWW. Awful.

  2. Deep Muck Big Rake » She’s right here behind the glass, and you’re gonna like her ’cause she’s got class Says:

    […] posts Dove’s “real beauty” Unilever’s “research” Posted by Becky @ 6:00 […]

  3. Deep Muck Big Rake » Books: Rumors of our Progress have been Greatly Exaggerated by Carolyn B. Maloney Says:

    […] which are the basis for the Campaign for Real Beauty and its self-esteem education for young girls. Unilever also makes and markets Axe products, which exist in a parallel universe where the V.I.X.E.N.S. (Very Interactive Xtremely […]

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