The Power of Positive Marketing #01 – Dove

There’s been a real trend of late towards positive marketing. We’re collecting some of our favourites in this regular series.

Launched in 2003, Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” is a long-running worldwide campaign which “…aims to change the status quo and offer in its place a broader, healthier, more democratic view of beauty” by celebrating and promoting women of all shapes, sizes and ages.

positive marketingStarting with a billboard campaign in London and Canada that invited people to “join the beauty debate” by asking if the featured women were “Grey or Gorgeous?” or “Fat or Fit?”. The approach taken by Unilever (the owners of the Dove brand) was a fresh approach to marketing female beauty products, which traditionally focus more on negative aspects to make women feel insecure about their appearance. Social media helped the campaign to go viral, gaining momentum and spreading the message globally.



In 2006, Dove released its “Evolution” video to promote its newly-launched “Dove Self-Esteem Project“. Created by Ogilvy & Mather, the video highlights the process behind manufacturing unrealistic beauty ideals, and succeed in being popular with both the public and critics. It was a financial and viral success, and won numerous advertising awards, including two Cannes Lions Grand Prix awards and an Epica D’Or.

Real Beauty Sketches

In 2013, the “Real Beauty Sketches” video launched to equal success. Continuing to challenge women’s perceptions of beauty and self-esteem, the video highlights the difference between how they see themselves to how others see them.

Real Beauty – Real Results

A global survey carried out by Unilever in 2004 found that only 23% of women felt responsible for their own definition of beauty. A decade later, this number had increased almost three times. Whilst Dove don’t take sole responsibility for improving these numbers, the impact is undeniable.

The legacy of the Campaign for Real Beauty can be measured in real results. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the campaign has been a huge success with brands such as Nike launching campaigns that focus on less model-perfect women. With consumers trending towards spending their money on products that reflect their personal values and the wider conversation regarding social good, Dove has seen its sales have increase from $2.5 billion to well over $4 billion during the campaign.

At a time when cynicism or empty gestures in marketing campaigns can be exposed almost instantly, the legacy of the Campaign for Real Beauty and Dove’s commitment to talking the talk when it comes to positive impact is undeniable.


AdvertisingAge’s Top Advertising Campaigns of the 21st Century

Read more about Positive Marketing Principles

Oliver Connor

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