You are ugly.
At least that is what the cosmetics industry would have you believe. If you don't have long shiny hair full lips and a size two body then you're not worth it. Dove begs to differ.
For the first time ever, a cosmetics company is empathizing with women, not telling them how to look. They are telling women that they don’t need to chase after some unobtainable standard of beauty because they are already beautiful. Dove is essentially building a relationship with women by showing them the damaging effects of their competitor’s marketing strategy on their psyche. They are telling people that there are some changes we need to make as a society in terms of how we view beauty and people are finally starting to take note.
Americans have been socialized to believe that beauty is a rare thing, coveted by many and obtained by few. Once you have it, it's life changing. Being beautiful can save a woman from a lifetime of spinsterhood. Many movies for women involve the woman getting a makeover in order to finally get the man of her dreams (Sabrina). In some cases, the makeover can even get the woman the job of her dreams (The Devil Wears Prada). A beautiful woman can also save a man from a lifetime of unhappiness. Case in point; the emotionally empty life of a playboy (Pretty Woman), an unhappy arranged marriage (Cinderella) or the life of a lonely hermit (The Notebook).
Beauty is something to be admired from afar. Just look at how we describe supermodels. They are “Angels”, ethereal creatures that mortal men could never be with and mortal women could never be. Luckily, there is a multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry to come to our rescue. Every cosmetic company's goal is to convince women that they have the tools to transform them from a mouse to an “angel”.
Since childhood women have been taught by the cosmetics industry that they need to look like whatever “it girl” is in fashion in order to be beautiful. Looking like someone else is an impossible task and all will fail. Women are led to believe that every issue in their relationship, every job they don’t get and every interaction with someone who is unkind is the result of not being beautiful enough. For if they were, they could have saved themselves and others from that fate.
Dove understands this, and they aren’t setting women up to fail. They are building affinitive trust by being on women’s side. Unlike their competitors, Dove wants women to love themselves. They want women to know that they are beautiful as they are. They don’t have to look like someone on a cosmetics ad. In fact, they have even produced a commercial illustrating how imposible it is to do so.
When you look at the current culture code for beauty marketing in America, the Dove real beauty campaign does not look like it would succeed. They are selling beauty products using women who don't fit soceity's standard of beauty. Dove’s advertising uses “real women”, women who are too short, too fat or just too flawed to be models, and who wants to look like that. However, Dove is succeeding, by teaching us that the answer to that question should be everyone.