Monday, November 20, 2006

Beauty Wars

My colleague Kiesa pointed me to this advertisement for Dove beauty products. Try and watch it--it shows “before” and “after” pictures of a model. And the glam factor of the “after” pic is not just excellent wardrobe and makeup but also extreme Photoshop.

The single-most remarkable feature of the ad was that Photoshop stunt where they elongate the model’s neck and she instantaneously acquires a regal mien. I thought the model attractive both before and after, so it didn’t really have the intended impact on me--but Kiesa and a few other women claimed that the ad gave them the shivers/goosebumps/epiphanies.

So is Dove and its so-called “real beauty campaign” a corporate savior of women’s self-esteem?

I’m not entirely convinced. If we were to, as some would say, “ax around,” we’d discover that Dove’s parent company Unilever also runs those annoying Axe body spray commercials. Browse around at Axe and then tell me how you feel about women’s self-esteem.

On the other hand, someone at Dove is making an extremely earnest attempt to demystify media-produced beauty. Whether it's part of a consistent marketing strategy or not, it's still something to applaud.