beauty in a patch: what’s wrong with the new dove ad
The new marketing campaign sees five physically and emotionally insecure women wear the ‘revolutionary’ RB-X Beauty Patch, seemingly ‘developed to enhance the way women perceive their own beauty’. Forget those creams that shrink crow’s feet, pores, and identity, who knew beauty came in a patch? In the video, psychologist Dr. Ann Kearney-Cooke administers the patches and the women in the ‘study’ are asked to keep a video diary for two weeks so that they can note any change in their mood. Lo and behold, by the end of the two weeks all five women feel more confident and more beautiful. If you feel as if you can, like me, distinguish between fantasy and reality then you may have already guessed by now that this patch was a piece of adhesive and nothing more.
‘I was really expecting there to be something. To see that there’s nothing…it’s crazy.’ One of the participants said after learning about the placebo effect of the patches. Perhaps what is crazier is that these women are being touted to the public as gullible and desperate, frantic enough to believe that something outside the realm of reality could empower them.
Dove has obviously tried to replicate the success (I write this with a hint of sarcasm) of the Real Beauty campaign and the Real Beauty Sketches campaign with its patented theme of empowerment, however when this message of empowerment comes from a company that is trying to quell your insecurities by selling beauty-in-a-bar there has to be some need for consumer scrupulosity.
Unlike the infamous Snickers ad –which went downhill due to that one pesky catchline ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’– Dove’s video has based its hypothesis on the notion that women’s beauty is paramount and inextricably linked to their empowerment, confidence, and self-worth. Dove’s marketing technique is strange, to say the least, in that they are trying to sell their beauty products with the catchline, ‘The right state of mind can unlock a powerful feeling of beauty’ which flies in the face of what they are actually trying to do: sell beauty products.
Irony aside, it’s humiliating that a company can (through manipulation) sell the idea that women need to be told when they can feel empowered and what that empowerment should manifest itself through. Unfortunately, this is what Dove thinks contemporary feminism boils down to. It seems like, according to Dove, women shouldn’t have the right to be liberated in any other way.
I reckon Dove (and ultimately its parent company, Unilever, which owns Lynx amongst a gazillion other brands) just keep rolling with controversy marketing. It’s not a misguided or faux celebration of individual beauty, but it’s a move that is completely aware that creating advertisements along this vein will incite online discussion. And this is the way to receive utmost brand exposure.