Dove Evolution is an advertisement I was pointed toward by a good friend of mine.   If it weren’t for my skin having negative reactions to Dove products, I believe this would be enough to cause me to switch brands.

I  considered describing the advertisement for those not interested in clicking the link, but I found the minute journey to be an experience I would hate to have been spoiled on.

How refreshing to see a company that sells ‘beauty products’ attempt to take an angle that points out how flawed our perceptions of beauty really are!

Way to go, Dove.   You have my respect.


  1. scarlett says

    What an awesome ad, I loved how they showed that the finished product often has no resemblance to the original product :p
    The campaigns I’ve seen of Doves have really impressed mw, I wonder how much of their sales are thanks to women buying because of the ads?

  2. says

    Although I think it’s a great advertisement, I would caution against switching to Dove based on only it. The main one I can think of is that its parent company also owns Axe, which is known for it’s anti-woman commercials. There are also some good criticisms of Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” that are worth looking into as well.

    Not saying that you shouldn’t necessarily endorse the company, but rather that it’s better to do so with a more robust knowledge base of their company’s practices and various interpretations of their campaign.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’ll have to do some research on those issues at some point. Unless you have the time/interest to elaborate or post some links to material you’ve come across?

    I’m not speaking for Ifritah or SBG (who has also commented on Dove commercials), but I tend to examine company ethics on a micro level, event by event, because I’ve never once found a company of any size that meets my very picky ethical standards through and through. I take it as a given that any successful company has gotten where it is by harming someone or something (by my standards of “harm”, anyway), but look for specific examples of right- or wrongdoing.

    I also am not sure any of us means to endorse a whole company by saying we love a particular ad, but maybe we should be clearer about that. While I think most of our visitors are fine critical thinkers, the people making the commercials certainly think everyone watching is just a big input device waiting to accept programming.

  4. Ifritah says

    I’ve actually done quite a bit of research on the Dove campaign since watching the commercial, so I would be happy to comment about that if needed.

    However, I agree with Betacandy that each commercial/add should be examined for its own worth. Obviously, Dove is using this advertisement to sell their products. Which means they know that their message for women is what women want to see.

    And that’s okay with me. What matters is that their message, money maker or not, is a good message. (Though I realize that there are arguments out there that disagree with even that much; however, I am not inclined to agree.)

    As for endorsement, it really didn’t occur to me that my post could be taken as such. After re-reading it, I can certainly see that. My emphasis of the commercials impact should have been stated in a different manner, and in the future, I shall do so.

  5. Ifritah says

    I would imagine they’ve made quite a large bankroll off of this campaign of theirs. Dove has tapped into a market that had not been previously explored in detail and it has received the attention it sought after.

    But more interesting than how much Dove is making, in my opinion, is how much impact the commercials are having on women’s self-image? Or the impact of media’s expectations of women’s image? I do so hope a study will occur to make such discoveries!

  6. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’d like to hear what either of you have researched about Dove, because I’m curious now, and if you do the research, I can also be lazy. 😀

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    It’s been my experience that most people simply don’t believe the amount of manipulation that goes into making people on screen and on paper look like some crazy standard of perfection.

    Out here in L.A., it’s easy to run into celebrities at grocery stores and so on. The top paid ones really do look the same in real life as on TV or in film – i.e., A-list actors and top supermodels.

    But the vast majority of actors and models are like the rest of us: they need good lighting, make-up, the right camera angles and good coiffing to look awesome. And with skilled photo manipulation thrown into the mix, even someone with a gigantic hook nose or nearly non-existent chin can be manipulated to look surprisingly good in a still photo, without correcting the obvious “flaw”: you just make every other bit of the face more proportionate to the feature you want to enhance or play down, pick the right camera angle, adjust lighting and makeup… seriously.

    Remember the print ad where Katie Couric was “slimmed down” through photo manipulation? It wasn’t obvious unless you had the other picture to compare it with.

    The bottom line is: we’re being deceived. While entertainment involves no small degree of deception, I think it’s important people be allowed to realize just how much. For example, no one seems to think they can emulate crazy action movie stunts without wires and harnesses and expect to survive. Why is it such a closely guarded secret just how many people have to labor to make one attractive middle-aged woman look like she’s 25 and lacking life experience?

    If this ad gets any of that message across, I’ll be pleased. If people can look at beauty the same way they look at stunts – thinking, “Wow, that’s cool!” rather than “Wow, I wish I could jump from one semi to another and then bounce up to grab onto a helicopter and then beat up the pilot and take over the chopper just before it smashes into a building”, we’d be a happier society.

  8. says

    Unfortunately most of the discussion I’ve seen has been on livejournal, in a community that doesn’t let google search it x.x Right now I’m stressing over my upcoming test, but after that I’ll see if I can pull up anything useful.

    And as per my feeling about endorsing the company, I was reacting to this:
    Way to go, Dove. You have my respect.

    Looking more carefully at it, it’s not exactly an endorsement. I guess I took it the way I did because I (and presumably others) respect y’all’s opinion and with only the context of the ad, it seems like Dove is a pretty sweet company.

  9. says

    Sorry if I came off as a little harsh ^^; I was trying to get the comment out before school, so I was kind of rushed…

    I do agree with you that, regardless of the reasoning behind the commercial and whatnot, the message that’s coming across is an overall good one. Though I have issues with the “campaign” as a whole, I think that this latest addition is one of their better ideas because, as Beta Candy said, if nothing else it draws attention to the way that modern images deceive us. The women we see in ads are not, on the whole, representations of real women. They’re based on real women.

    Anyway, following my trend of commenting before school, I will now run out the door without checking to make sure that I make sense or am not saying anything dumb. :)

  10. Revena says

    I remember reading a few criticisms here and there of the “real women” ad campaign itself (dunno anything about other Dove advertising campaigns, or those of its parent company, etc.) – basically, they boiled down to:

    1) these “real women” are still well within the range of what our culture accepts as conventionally attractive – light of skin/not particularly “ethnic”, feminine of shape and presentation, still lighter than the average woman


    2) no matter how much the ads celebrate “real” beauty, they’re still pushing beauty products aimed at firming fat, or hiding wrinkles, or whatever.

    Of course, I can’t remember any links, either… 😉

    I do think the “evolution” ad is cool, and thought-provoking in a rather positive way, but I’m definitely coming down on the side of “skeptical of the overall message” – which I suspect is true of pretty much everyone else here, but we should try harder to articulate that when we’re writing our “hey, someone got something right!” posts.

  11. Jennifer Kesler says

    I didn’t think you were being harsh at all. And your point that we should be clearer that we’re not endorsing an entire company (or even the entire campaign) is well-taken.

  12. Jennifer Kesler says

    Those are both good points. In regards to #1, it’s possible that varied ethnicity just didn’t even occur to them (institutionalized racism), and it’s also possible that the use of regular-looking women was hard enough to get past everyone who had to sign-off on this campaign, so rocking the boat further with an insistence on ethnicity might have killed the whole project. And no, I’m not making excuses in either case.

    BUT… every little inch the door gets pried open provides an opportunity for people with further-reaching vision to go a step further, until real change occurs. Or, even more interestingly, while everyone’s focused on that door getting pried open, you can sneak a really controversial message in through the window. 😉

    And I would say the overall message is always “buy our products”, and logically you would think they’ll say absolutely anything to sell it to you. But there are moral boundaries marketers refuse to cross (i.e., anything that might empower women), and that’s kind of why this site exists. This is the first campaign I know of that’s suggested “there’s beauty in ordinariness”. Ever. Even though surely that’s surely a message lots of women have longed to hear for decades.

  13. baskerville says

    Do you think it actually does make a difference to people’s self-image? I mean, we’ve all always known that theres major editing involved in the fashion and beauty industry.

    Even showing that a billboard beauty is ordinary in real life, the fact remains that it’s the image on the billboard that is held in high regard, considered glamorous, desireable, etc. Whatever steps are taken to make an image fit the standard, we all still know what the standard is.

  14. Revena says

    Well, it is kinda nice to see just how unattainable the gorgeous billboard model look actually is – it’s not just makeup, and diet, and stylists, and lighting, but also lots and lots and lots of photo manipulation. Which, while I knew before, I’d not seen demonstrated so dramatically, previously.

    I’ve known for ages that I would never look like the women on billboards. It does kinda cheer me up to see it demonstrated that the women on billboards don’t look particularly like the women on billboards, either. 😉

    But I think your point that this isn’t a revolutionary, shocking idea is well-taken. It’s a pretty novel direction for an ad campaign, though, I think. Not as novel as a series of commercials that really actively tear down beauty standards would be, though!

  15. Jennifer Kesler says

    I mean, we’ve all always known that theres major editing involved in the fashion and beauty industry.

    I’ve known a lot of people who don’t seem to grasp just how much “fixing” is done in post, so to speak.

    Whatever steps are taken to make an image fit the standard, we all still know what the standard is.

    Point taken. But when I was a teenage girl, and every girl I knew obsessed and centered her entire life’s activities on the hope that she would become a model, I took great comfort when I stopped growing at not quite 5′ 2″. There was no hope I would ever be a model, so I took stock of what I had. And what I have really stands out in a roomful of equally tall slim blondes. 😉

    If other women realize that billboard beauty is as far out of reach for them, there’s hope some of them at least will start to consider their own raw material, and work WITH their natural assets instead of fighting them just because they don’t correspond to some arbitrary standard.

  16. Jennifer Kesler says

    Er, and I didn’t mean to imply that every woman should try to be beautiful, by her own standard anymore than Calvin Klein’s.

    It seems to me that men try to achieve a certain look to express themselves (clean-shaven, biker, Goth), and then hope someone finds them good-looking. Women, conversely, aim for good-looking and worry if no one finds them that way. I think we’d be better off just trying to look healthy and clean, or going for a particular style that expresses us, and accept that some people will find us beautiful and others won’t, and it’s all good.

    So when I talked about looking at my own raw material, what I meant was not that I’m aiming for a non-traditional beauty, but more that with very little effort, I can look nice and ever-so-slightly exotic, so I just go for that look (which I feel expresses me pretty well) and accept that some people think I look great and others don’t.

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