Dove’s True Colors: beautiful or bad?


Here’s the thing: I use Dove.

I like Dove. I happen to think they make nice soap. And if they also

happen to put out some nice television ads, well, all the better. But

recently the brand and its Campaign for Real

have come

under fire by critics who have cried hypocrisy because Dove is owned by the same

company that puts out, among many other things, Axe body spray. On

the one hand, positive messages telling young girls about having good

body image; on the other, sleazy messages telling young boys about bagging

hot chicks. Oh, the conundrum.

Dove’s latest ad, called

“Onslaught,” is interesting for many reasons. In the clip, an adorable

red-haired girl smiles innocently into the camera, only to be bombarded

with a montage of images urging her to look “younger, smaller, lighter,

firmer, tighter, thinner, softer.”

Now, I think that spot is kind

of genius. And it’s also pretty ballsy, considering Dove’s message

basically bites the hand of the body it belongs to, namely the beauty

industry. Of course, this isn’t the first time Dove’s Real

Beauty Campaign has taken on the beauty myth. Its last ad, “Evolution,”

was a time-lapsed look at what it takes to become billboard-perfect. Hint:

It’s not just diet and exercise.

And then, of course, there

was the ad that started it all. The ad that had me crying into my

bean dip during the Super Bowl in 2006. Also, did anyone else catch

Tina Fey
’s reference to the spot on last week’s 30 Rock? “It’s

like those Dove commercials never happened!” Priceless.

As you dab away your own tears,

consider this, Dove’s parent company Unilever also owns Axe (also

called Lynx, depending on the country). The body spray’s none-too-subtle

ad campaign features commercials with bikini-clad Amazonian models running

like wild animals on the hunt, drawn to the scent of some schmuck spraying

himself — and all with the tagline “Spray More, Get More.” Classy, really


So, the question is this: Is

all the good done by Dove cancelled out by the very bad done by Axe?

My take on is that, no, one does not negate the other. Those Dove

spots, while still ultimately trying to get you to buy more soap, have

a message that is undeniably positive. At least they are addressing

the problems inherent in the beauty industry and actively trying to

make a difference.

Also, I don’t think you can

necessarily hold one company responsible for the actions of another

company under its parent corporation’s umbrella. Unilever owns more

than 400 brands, ranging from Dove to Axe, Ben & Jerry’s to Slim-Fast

and Lipton Ice Tea to Sunlight dish soap. If one must protest, protest

to Unilever itself for having such a wacky combination of companies.

Or, better yet, to Axe for making such a stinky — in every sense of

the word — product.

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