If we’re beautiful just the way we are, why do those Dove ‘Real Beauty’ ads tell us we need to buy their skin firming creams?

It was a truly brilliant stroke of marketing genius, this Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. Over the past five years, this ad campaign flogs Dove’s skin firming products by using real women instead of professional size-two models in its advertising. The ‘real’ women in the ads range in age from 22 to 96, and cover a variety of sizes.

According to a press release from Dove’s parent company, Unilever:

“Through this global initiative, Dove has boldly defied society’s traditional images, and celebrated the beauty of women of different shape, size, colour and age because the brand believes this can widen the definition of beauty.”

Call me cynical, but I suspect that what the brand actually believes is that this campaign would sell a big whack of Dove skin firming products.

Dove strategically targeted a demographic of women who are tired of those stick-thin supermodels who just make us feel frumpy and dumpy by comparison. And this innovative strategy worked. Within six months of the campaign launch, European sales of Dove’s skin firming products increased by 700%.  The campaign’s 2004 sales topped $1 billion in its first year.

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