Unilever's Dove is taking a stand on diversity and inclusion in advertising by covering the cost of diverse talent incurred by other brands. As part of its latest initiative "It's On Us" which launched in South Africa, Dove "infiltrated" international casting calls with real beauty models from Project #ShowUs. Each had a message to encourage inclusion: "If you choose me, and show me as I really am, Dove will cover the cost of my appearance fee."
It is now calling on other brands to help increase the presence of real beauty in their ads through their campaigns. "Show us real beauty. Show us beauty that’s inclusive and diverse. Show us beauty that looks like all of us. This is what we all want to see - but it’s not a reality," Dove said on the It's On Us website.
It added that 70% of women do not feel represented in media and advertising, and "every day, women’s lives are impacted by limitations, exclusions and narrow beauty stereotypes". So far, Magnum, Krispy Kreme, Cif and Nedbank have come on board in support of It's On Us.
The It's On Us initiative comes as Dove believes real beauty deserves to be seen and celebrated in the media, advertising and all areas of life. Meanwhile, Dove's Project #ShowUs was launched in 2019 and contains a collection of more than 10,000 images showcasing women and non-binary individuals, offering a more inclusive vision of beauty for all media and advertisers to use. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Dove for comment on when this initiative will launch in Southeast Asia.
Global VP Sophie van Ettinger said by giving brands and companies the tools to show a more diverse representation of beauty, the brand is helping to change the way women are represented. According to her, this has a positive impact on how confident women feel in their appearance.
"We know from research that if women don’t feel represented, it can hold them back from reaching their full potential. The effects are vast, negatively impacting health, career and relationships," she said. Van Ettinger explained that as "an actionist brand that continuously challenges narrow beauty ideals", it is Dove's duty to help others represent all beauty in their advertising.
Dove has lived up to its mission of diversity and inclusion as well as body positivity. Among the list of campaigns it has launched includes the Dove Ad Makeover, a Facebook app that hands the power of advertising. As part of this campaign, Dove purchased ad space and handed the responsibility of filling it over to fans.
All they had to do was select a message from one of eight choices, including "Your birthday suit suits you", "Everybody is beautiful" and "The perfect bum is the one you’re sitting on", choose who they wanted the new ad to appear to, and a body positive message appears in the place of whatever criticising message was there before.
Another campaign the brand is known for is Dove Real Beauty Sketches, which features FBI trained forensic artist Gil Zamora drawing a portrait of women based on the description they give her. A random stranger was then asked to describe the same woman to Gil, to see how their description would differ.
Meanwhile, Dove also sought to encourage women to love their bodies and in 2017, produced its iconic bottle in different shapes and sizes in the UK. "From curvaceous to slender, tall to petite, and whatever your skin color, shoe size or hair type, beauty comes in a million different shapes and sizes," the brand said previously. The marketing initiative, however, was not well-received by consumers, with some commenting that it was "patronising" and that Dove should not place too much emphasis on body shape.
Earlier this month, Dove's parent company Unilever banned the word "normal" from all of its beauty and personal care brands’ packaging and advertising, as part of the launch of its new Positive Beauty vision and strategy. The decision is one of the steps it is taking to challenge narrow beauty ideals and work towards helping to end discrimination and advocating for a more inclusive vision of beauty.
Last year, its Indian unit Hindustan Unilever also renamed its Fair & Lovely brand to "Glow & Lovely", a week after it removed the word "fair" from its Fair & Lovely products. The men's range of Fair & Lovely was also rebranded to "Glow & Handsome". The company previously copped flak for focusing on insecurities in skin tone and promoting negative stereotypes against darker skinned women.
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