Hot Gossip: Dove To Dump “Real Beauty” Campaign

There was one quiet item in the news out of London this morning, with MarketingWeek reporting that Dove has ordered its ad agency, Ogilvy, to dump the highly successful “Real Beauty” campaign for something “less preachy.”

Rumor has it that the new campaign, still under wraps with the code name “Darwin,” is aimed away from body image and more toward helping women feel more confident in their appearance through “fun” messaging.  Real women will no longer be the focus, it seems, since the new campaign will return to featuring models.

It’s hard to believe that the “Real Beauty” campaign has been running for nearly seven years.  I still believe it’s one of the finest examples of stunning messaging, building community, and marketing that skyrocketed sales.

I also feel that the company could have made better use of social media to extend the brand for several more years, if not indefinitely.  This was a long-term marketing strategy that, with a vision toward capturing the hearts of young girls who would eventually become loyal adult customers, could have gone on indefinitely.

Now, it seems we’re heading back to the same-old, same-old.  We’ve lost another champion of reality in marketing.  And it’s a shame.  Given that just this week, we watched as Abercrombie Kids first promoted its Ashley Push-Up Bikini Top for girls ages 7-14, then pulled it as mothers across the country headed for the company with pitchforks and torches, we need more of what Dove had to say, not less.

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17 Responses to “Hot Gossip: Dove To Dump “Real Beauty” Campaign”

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  1. Kelly Watson says:

    Totally agree. I’m curious if the “preachy” comment was internal, or came from a focus group or survey or some kind. I didn’t find the campaign preachy at all.

  2. Mary Schmidt says:

    Something tells me a man made that decision. Tired of looking real women.

  3. Angi says:

    What a shame. Their real women with imperfect skin made me think their facial products would save my face. And those real women thighs kept me thinking that there’s still a point to taking care of the skin on my legs. I don’t need to laugh about my legs, I need to see that I’m not the only person in the world with big thighs.

  4. A company’s perceived need to “change” strikes again. I’m confident that won’t see the same strong results they did with the real women campaign. You’re right, they could have extended this for years and built a whole new following of customers.

  5. stephanie says:

    too bad, it was a GREAT campagin

  6. katbron says:

    Bummed. A real campaign featuring real women. I enjoyed the “preaching” and felt this campaign resonated with young women. Hopefully they will retain the message.

  7. JFlink says:

    As a marketing professional, I understand the need for a company to “refresh” a marketing campaign after 7 years, but it was such an inspiring and positive campaign, that I am a little sad to see it go. When has a marketing campaign done so much for the average woman?

  8. Angi says:

    So…this morning as I curled my hair I started looking at the products in my bathroom. No Dove. I checked all my bottles of lotion throughout the house. No Dove. Even though I love their campaign, it didn’t convert to a purchase from me. Did it work for any of you?

    Maybe, in spite of my disappointment, they do need something to change?

  9. Kat Gordon says:

    I, too, love the spirit of the campaign. I’ve heard though that it didn’t result in “skyrocketing” sales. Quite the opposite according to the folks at Just Ask a Woman. They have a blog post today showcasing a new Dove spot:

  10. That’s interesting, Kat. Dove was always reluctant to release sales figures for America, but we do know that sales did skyrocket in the UK, up 700%. If they flatlined as the post indicates, I would wonder why Dove stuck with it for so long. I’m not sure the example ad is part of the new “Darwin” campaign still that’s still in the works, but whatever they do should be interesting.

  11. Madame Komi says:

    I too found this interesting. I run a women’s social group, 200 women. Dove was our sponsor for several months, and I had a hard time giving their product away, though we all discussed the campaign and loved it.But most women just felt they liked what they used, didn’t need to change. Lots of brand loyalty, so if this was boosting sales you would think they would stay with it. Changes at the top?

  12. Steve Jones says:

    I always admired this campaign for its reflection of reality. Even if you apply the theory that great marketing is directed to our asipirations and ideals, the “real women” campaign still works since these “real” models are still beautiful people.
    Sad to see this campaign disappear. Maybe an opportunity for a competitor to become the product of choice for real women?

  13. mia says:

    Wish they would reconsider pulling the Real Beauty campaign. That one is the best I’ve seen- it felt like such a relief to be released from the relentless ‘preaching’ at women that the usual ads do; telling women they aren’t good enough they way they naturally are. The Real Beauty campaign was a breath of fresh air. I became a devotee of Dove products because of it ( I just may go back to the Body Shop products).

  14. Andy - Real Man says:

    Still disappoints me when I see women like Mary make such disparaging remarks about men, spare us your misandry and spare your fellow females too.
    The women that Dove used in those ads were what most men find really attractive. Curves in all the right places, big beaming smiles and someone who can enjoy life without worrying about the nutritional information.

    These stick thin scrawny heroin-chic models look more like boys. This is what happens when there are a lot of gay men as “style icons”. Gay men telling you gorgeous ladies to look more like boys…. COME ON LADIES you are better than that.

    And I’m not some some voyeuristic prat, I’m happily married to a wonderful woman. She’s also got many of the insecurities that the glossy mags, and loose women, and make up companies have convinced you to have. You don’t need them. You really don’t.


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