Dove, the Unilever-owned beauty brand, is set to cause controversy with its latest campaign to include recovering eating disorder sufferers.
The hard-hitting phase of its Campaign for Real Beauty is thought to target women on a psychological level by encouraging ex-sufferers to talk about their experiences with illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia.
The campaign, developed by Ogilvy Advertising, aims to build on the recent success of the campaign’s online strand, a viral called Evolution. It showed a woman being made-up and her photograph was then digitally manipulated.
The lastest phase of the campaign will go further than Dove’s previous strategy of using “real-size” women in billboard advertisements. The original ads, unveiled in 2003, led to a 700% leap in sales of skin-firming lotion and placed Dove as the fastest growing beauty brand in Western Europe.
The new aspect of the campaign links to Dove’s efforts to target low self-esteem among women as a means of successfully establishing an “emotional connection with the brand”. An integral part of the campaign is the “self-esteem fund”, which provides information packs for use in schools and aims to educate young girls about healthy body-image.
But critics have argued that the Dove push has been undermined by the advertising of other brands also owned by parent company Unilever, such as Lynx and Sunsilk, which use marketing strategies that are the antithesis of the Dove work.