Advertising is increasingly influential in people's daily life. It affects their view of the world by implementing certain stereotypes that are beneficial to the selling of the product a campaign is advertising. Nowadays Beauty Campaigns are advertising their beauty products by creating awareness of the controversy media has in the modern world. Campaigns like the Nike 'better for it', or the 'like a girl' campaign from Always, advertise by going against gender inequality. There are other campaigns that concern the issues of body image. These campaigns create advertisements to empower women and therefore create brand loyalty. This is an issue that creates a debate whether these type of advertising is beneficial for society or not, therefore I have decided to analyze how the 'natural' body image of woman used in the 2004 Dove campaign for Real Beauty is used to effectively engage the american audience.
The 'Dove campaign for Real Beauty' released in 2004, in response to the study commissioned by Unilever, titled 'The real truth about beauty', conducted by Feminist scholars: Nancy Etcoff, Susie Orbach and Jennifer Scott. The aim of the study was to 'explore empirically what beauty means to woman today and why that is' (Nancy et al., 2004, p.26) The study revealed women's concerns and judgment of beauty ideals. It showed that woman focused and judged beauty majorly on a few physical attributes, while 75% of women between ages 18 and 64 believe in the idea of beauty should be more inclusive of a 'greater variety of physical types' portrayed in the media. The results also revealed that only 2% of woman around the world consider themselves 'beautiful' and that beauty concerns start at the early ages of six years. Sustained by these results, Dove launched 'The Campaign For Real Beauty', which challenged the current stereotypical definition and media portrayals of beauty by initiating a campaign that operates against restrictive feminine beauty standards and promotes a more democratic and 'real' image of woman. With the campaign Billboards, magazines, media and Television rendered with adverts featuring 'real woman', focusing on altering the definition of beauty and woman's body image.
In this an argument will be made by evaluating different aspects of Dove's campaign. Three adverts with a range of advertising mediums will be analyzed, which reflect most of the campaign, giving a wide range of information to create a discussion about how the campaign influences and engages the audience. Firstly I will analyze the 'The true colours XL super bowl commercial', an advertising commercial that aired on TV in 2006, directed to young woman. I will follow with a printed ad, presented in billboards and magazines, the 'firming cream advert'. This was the first advert published by the campaign, and features six woman with different sizes and ethnic groups. Finally I will Analyze an other printed, magazine advert, the 'before and after, body wash', that creates a controversial view of the campaign, and a questionable purpose. In each of this advertisements, I will analyze the context of when and where it was released, how it influences the american audience, and how effective the use of stylistic devices is.
II. The 'True colors' commercial
In the 2006 XL Super Bowl, Dove release the 'true colours'commercial (Cole Wayzata, 2012). In 2004, the Dove self-esteem project initiated as a branch of the Dove campaign. This Project started with the mission to 'ensure the next generation grows up enjoying a positive relationship with the way they look'(Dove self-esteem Project). The Self-Esteem fund was used to educate parents, mentors, teachers, as well as the girls themselves. The video is directed and photographed by Mike Rowles (Duncan Macleod, 2006). It has the purpose to express to the audience the importance of changing the way young girls think about themselves and their body image, as well as promote the 'Self-Esteem Found'. This is done by the use of image, text, sound and the advertising medium.
The commercial is a video featuring girls from different age groups and ethnic backgrounds, it uses a timeline like structure built up by images and text to display its purpose. The video displays thirteen different girls with distinctive characteristics, showing their uniqueness, and emphasizing the aim of the campaign: Everyone is beautiful in their own way. The video starts by showing nine girls with a serious facial expression, and looking directly to the camera, with a melancholic look. Phrases like 'hates her freckles', 'thinks she's ugly', 'wishes she were blonde' and 'afraid she's fat' are incorporated into the images explicitly reflect their insecurities, and the normal american girl insecurities. This creates a pessimistic and uncomfortable mood, because by using written words instead of spoken words and verbs like 'thinks', 'afraid' and 'wishes' the audience is exposed to the girls private thoughts, and an idea that they do not have a voice is suggested. The pessimistic tone can be viewed as ironical due to children being stereotypical joyful and happy, indicating the aspiration Dove has to break stereotypes. A 'blonde' skinny, blue eyed woman, is the stereotypical 'beautiful' woman, therefore by a little girl wanting to be blonde, makes the audience believe she wishes she were the 'ideal' woman. The adjectives 'fat' and 'ugly', a link is made between the audience and the advertisement, as everyone has once described themselves with these negative adjectives, making the audience relate and maximize the emotions towards the commercial.
In the commercial shows the girls in a variety of casual backgrounds: a sofa, and a bedroom, to a metro station. The purpose of this might be to indicate the audience that this thoughts go through a girls mind on a daily basis, all the time. Close up images are shown of every girls faces to highlight the facial expression, but for the older girls a different camera angle and format is used. They are not completely exposed to the camera, one is behind the silhouette of a male character, and the other is only a long shot of a girl in what could be identified as a metro station, with her hand over her stomach indicating body insecurity. These altered shots give the audience that as girls grow up insecurities are not only thoughts, they become into actions, making a relationship with eating disorders developed on teen girls.
A two second clip of three girls putting their fists up is shown, enclosed by two white backgrounds with the words 'let's change their minds' and 'we've created the dove self-esteem found'. The order of the images at this point creates an emphasis on unity and the use of the colour white makes the audience clear their minds and focus on the text, as well as creating a satisfying atmosphere. The 'fisits up' are a symbol of empowerment, strength and support towards woman. By associating this conjunction of images with the previous pessimistic images, an implicit message about why the self-esteem found was created is given to the audience. proceeding from this a series of images with an upbeat tone are shown, juxtaposing the initial mood. The frowns in the girls faces have now transformed into smiles. Mike Rowles uses the structure of the video to create a timeline effect. This creates an impact on the audience because it shows images of the before: the pessimistic mood, then announces the campaign, and continues the video with a joyful mood. Predicting and suggesting to the audience a change will be noticed now that the campaign is in practice. Overall the structure makes the video effective. The order the images and text are put in is like a timeline with a 'happy' ending, concluding with the phrase 'help us' showing that the happy ending won't be possible without people's help.
The video was created to be released in the 2006 Super Bowl, which creates a unique audience. Dove might have decided to release this video during the Super Bowl commercials, regardless of the 2.5 million dollar cost for a 30-second ad (Daniel B. Kline, 2017) due to it being the biggest sporting event in the United States. It was said by Kihan Kim in the international journal of sports marketing in 2009, that the super bowl telecasts have reached more than 90 million viewers over the years, which proves that a large number of people viewed the commercial. The audience that Mike Rowles targets with this video is mainly adults that are responsible for young girls. With the phrase 'let's change their minds' in the video a message is sent to the audience, the adults specifically, to tell girls they are beautiful. By using the word 'let's', Dove is inviting the audience to take part in the 'Self-Esteem project', which is also viewed at the end of the video were the words 'Help us' come up, Implying the same message, but also telling the audience that the campaign cannot do the work on its own. Furthermore, these phrases exposes its mission of teaching people, by using an implicit didactic tone. On the other hand the campaign also benefits on the extensive audience to advertise the brand and create brand loyalty.
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