The brand, Dove, is a brand most if not all are familiar with. In 2004, Dove was seeking a way to revive the brand. Their PR Company, Edelman, conducted a study amongst more than 3,000 women in 10 different countries to learn about women’s interests and priorities. The study revealed that only 2 percent of women considered themselves beautiful, and Dove saw that as an opportunity to promote their newest beauty supplies by challenging the ideology of beauty. This resulted in the launch of their “Real Beauty Campaign.” Dove’s campaign presented a different vision of beauty than the norm by targeting women of all ethnicities, sizes, and ages across the world. The campaign aims to celebrate real women, tattoos, C-section scars, wrinkles, and natural differences to encourage them to be comfortable with themselves and confident. Due to the broad target range, many women were exposed to Dove’s campaign, and because of the types of women used in the campaign, women across the world could relate to them. This resulted in Dove receiving ad awards and an increase in sales to $4 billion today from $2.5 billion in the campaign’s opening year. Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence, speaks to six principles of persuasion. Throughout the years of the Real Beauty campaign, Dove successfully used these principles of persuasion to alter brand perception and effectively sell their product.
One principle of persuasion implemented by Dove throughout their campaign was Consensus. Human beings rely on social cues from others to determine how to act and feel in various situations. One such cue is seeing persons who they share similarities with. When they see a seemingly “regular” person like themselves take action, they are more willing to follow suit.
Dove also utilized the principle of Liking. Dove strategically brought on ambassadors to their campaign that are liked, relatable, and who persons could see as their friend. An admirable example of this is Dove Ambassador Molly Burke, a YouTuber famously known for being blind and supporting the blind community by educating others on YouTube. Molly became an ambassador for Dove’s foaming body wash to highlight the pleasure of having a sensory experience when blind and taking a shower. Many visually impaired persons who relate to Molly may be persuaded to purchase Dove’s Foaming Body Wash due to their Liking for her.
In 2004 at the start of the campaign, Dove created a fund in which they partnered with organizations such as Girl Scouts, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Girls Inc. to foster discussions and form activities with the children about bullying and various photography projects which allowed young girls to see beauty differently in the world and alleviate the pressures of societies beauty standards for the new generation. This coincides with another principle of persuasion, Reciprocity. This principle states, “give what you want to receive,” meaning doing right by others will result in them doing right by you. Dove will be remembered for these acts of kindness, and this will result in the brand gaining respect amongst the population and amongst young ones who will one day convert into loyal customers.
The Real Beauty Campaign has been going on strong for nearly sixteen years. This highlights the principle of Consistency. Dove is actively and publicly advocating for the normalization of real beauty standards by using real people and not models in their ads and as ambassadors. They also continue to support various organizations to push the message that there are different types of beauty in all women.
This campaign has proven to be one of their most successful yet. Through this campaign, Dove sought out to address a social problem rather than focusing on selling a product. This allowed Dove to adopt a tone of social change and feminism across the world, attracting more women and persuading them with the idea that Dove cares.