comScore
  1. Mediaite
  2. Gossip Cop
  3. Geekosystem
  4. Styleite
  5. SportsGrid
  6. The Mary Sue
  7. The Maude
  8. The Braiser

What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Today in Awesome

When Advertising Goes Right: Watch Dove Show Women How Beautiful They Are


Technically, this is an ad for Dove. But forget about that and watch as an FBI-trained forensic artist helps them make a very important point.

(via Mashable)

Are you following The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?

TAGS: |


  • http://anna.balasi.com/ AnnaB

    Well, they’ve been trying and trying. I think this is the closest they’ve come to what they were actually hoping to communicate.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. That was really powerful. And what a difference a few simple descriptors can make.

  • http://twitter.com/sarasakana Sara Sakana

    Casuai reminder that Dove is a Unilever brand. Know what else is a Unilever brand? Axe. You know, the Axe with the Godawful sexist ads.

    So I’ll be impressed with one hand’s “campaign for real beauty” when the other hand stops running commercials where women are treated like props. At best, they cancel each other out.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    I don’t think a company making something for an entirely different demographic takes away anything from the positive message of this video.

  • Lily

    There’s something in my eye.

  • Layn

    beautiful. We’re all our own worst critics. This even applies to artists and their own art. We only see the flaws.
    Being aware of that has made me a lot happier and proud of what i create. I guess knowing this deep down is also the reason i’ve never liked describing myself, preferring that others do it for me. Although it’s a lot harder to actively believe it when it comes to how you look

  • http://twitter.com/PhysicistLisa Lisa M

    I think this is awesome. But since they have a men’s line, i wish they’d included some guys too. I think a lot of men in my life are also really hard on themselves. Either way, i got weepy :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/paula.smiff Paula Smiff

    Awwww, that made me tear up.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think I agree with that statement. While I think the message itself is a good one, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We’re all grown up enough to realize that marketing is marketing, even if it looks good. We also know that just because something is marketed doesn’t make it immediately hollow. But Dove is a company and it needs to market to maximize its profits. And it’s unavoidable that no matter how positive and uplifting its message is, it’s crafted in an attempt to get your money. Had this been an experiment done by an artist group or just some interested people with these resources, the context would be different.

    The fact that Unilever also taps into sexist marketing strategies to push its other brand suggests that they know what emotions and themes to exploit to their demographics. They might be thoughtful and body-liberated, but they might also just be really good at pulling people’s strings. It underscores the reality that at the end of the day, their bottom line motivation is financial gain through emotional manipulation. An unpleasant reality, maybe not their only motivation, but one that factors in when they give the go ahead to make these commercials.

    I have nothing but praise for the idea itself. But I would be hesitant to praise the company, and I can’t ignore that their tendrils are plugged in with a less inspiring, ulterior motive.

  • Anonymous

    I give credit to Dove for making a positive choice. They could always have gone with a less positive message – “other products damage the hell out of your skin,” or “if you don’t use Dove products people won’t think you’re attractive,” etc.

    And Axe only perpetuates their tasteless ideas because consumers respond to them. If we want to see less scantily-clad women falling into the laps of Axe users we have to stop buying their products and get our friends to stop buying their products. We have to be the change we want to see. Don’t punish Dove for a positive message because of Axe and their negative messages. In fact, supporting Dove’s initiative will actually send an important message to Unilever.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Good points, but again, I don’t feel that takes away from the message and how this video could affect folks for the better. Yes, businesses exist (and advertise) in order to make more money but if this ad made just one person consider they may be too hard on themselves and that physical beauty isn’t everything, then I think it’s served another purpose.

  • Isen

    When advertising goes ‘right’? Really?

    Sorry, as cosy this ad may seem, it still promotes that womens first regard should be their beauty. What this ad should have done to deserve such an exorbitant announcement is, to promote that a woman doesn’t need to fullfill beautystandards to be happy, successful or strong.

  • http://twitter.com/pippaalice Pippa

    It’s an interesting idea but tbh it is still to do with women seeing their natural ‘beauty’ it’s still preoccupied by this idea you have to be physically beautiful to be a true woman. Also I don’t for a second believe Dove really want women to love themselves. They want you to buy their stuff. (Sorry I am really cynical about this!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/rodimusben Ben Lundy

    That was great!

  • Amber Barnes

    Also, notice how the token black woman in this is only shown in panning shots, or just her back, or just in brief seconds of screen time. That the only brown-skinned girl is there to prop up a white woman.

    Also notice how there’s no fat women. Or any woman who isn’t already conventionally pretty.

    All this is is the usual shallow beauty commercial clap trap with soft piano music and lens flares and touting the tired old “but don’t worry, you’re secretly beautiful to everyone else around you!” line. Dove’s out to sell a product, or at least give their product a good name, don’t expect anything but the usual attempts to tell women that their beauty is their worth.

  • http://bobginger.blogspot.com/ Peanut

    Oh come on. Dove sells beauty products. Women buy beauty products because they want to look and feel better about THEIR LOOKS. It is in NO WAY saying that beauty is first and foremost or that women can’t be rockstars otherwise.

  • http://bobginger.blogspot.com/ Peanut

    I want to upvote this more than once.

  • http://bobginger.blogspot.com/ Peanut

    Where do they say if you’re not beautiful (in your eyes or anyone else’s), you’re less of a woman? The fact is that people worry about their looks – men AND women. That doesn’t mean they aren’t smart, capable, kick-ass people, and this ad doesn’t suggest that. That’s like saying those ads for people with depression who aren’t alone and want to feel better are telling folks they’re lesser people for having that struggle. It’s just tapping into a VERY common concern/fear/anxiety and trying in some small way to alleviate that for people.

  • Hollyanna

    I disliked when the one woman was happy her face didn’t look as fat as she thought. I understand how someone would easily react that way, but they didn’t have to include it. I feel it alienates a part of the demographic that Dove is trying to cater to with the real woman ads. I don’t want the message to be, “don’t worry, you’re not that fat,” I want it to be,”you’re fat and you’re beautiful, no matter what they say” It soured me on the whole thing.

  • Jesse

    I’d like to point out that this would be 100x more interesting and positive if it was a social experiment instead of an ad for Dove. What the ad is missing is an introduction explaining that this is a study to see how people perceive themselves physically versus how others perceive them physically and what the roots of that are. People like those reading this blog are inclined to naturally assume that, whereas many other people might see this and simply think “yeah i totally wish i wasn’t fat and had a hot chin” which is not the point. Or is it? there’s no way to tell because, again, it’s just an ad.

    this really is incredibly interesting and moving, it’s a pretty brilliant way to illustrate how dysfunctional our self assessment is. Unfortunately, Dove is a crappy company and not a group of social scientists so any real importance from this will be lost on most people. The point that I HOPE people take from it isn’t that they’re not as “ugly” as they think, it’s that they’re too hard on themselves and should be happy and accepting of who they are. That may seem one in the same to most of us who think critically about this stuff, but it really is two VERY different things.

    Also, the study should include men and a far larger variety of people with different backgrounds, different bodies, etc.

  • Amber Barnes

    Did you not hear the woman at the very end? Let me quote:

    “It’s troubling, I should be more grateful of my natural beauty. It
    impacts the choices and the friends we make, the jobs we go out for,
    they way we treat our children, it impacts everything. It couldn’t be
    more critical to your happiness.”

    Being beautiful is the key to your happiness. The whole damn experiment circles around convincing women they’re actually pretty (while conveniently only featuring four white women, three who are blonde haired and blue eyed and all under 40), and saying that feeling beautiful is what makes you happy.

  • Isen

    I didn’t see it before, but yes, you’re right.

    And people seem to forget that the women in the ad were casted – those are not random women from the street. And I don’t buy for a second that the blonde at 2:20 ever thought she isn’t pretty.

  • http://twitter.com/punninglinguist Ames

    I hate to be critical of this idea but as an ad vying for my consumer dollars I dislike it. I find it interesting that all of the subjects are slender and also that the main “character” is an still an older version of the type of woman that’s traditionally been in featured in commercials. I suppose we’re not ready to embrace ALL types of beauty, eh, Dove? What a surprise.

  • http://twitter.com/iamfantastikate Kate T.

    Axe is nothing compared to Unilever’s “Fair and Lovely.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/tamsyn.michael Tamsyn Michael

    The “1/4 moisturising cream” in Dove products is actually Palm Oil which, despite their promises (only given after they were called on it), is still sourced in non-sustainable ways (ie dead orangoutangs) :(.

    Bad Dove is still bad.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    Honestly, I like to think that the experiment gave these women a different perspective. It’s not so much the “I am beautiful after all” message but rather one that says that we shouldn’t focus so much on our looks. Happiness is not being beautiful but rather accepting the way we are and not focusing on what we perceive as our own flaws. We only make ourselves miserable by trying to be perfect.

  • Facebook User

    The first time through, the man drew the women with stern expressions. I’m sure none of the women used descriptors for their facial expressions. When the “buddies” described them, they did what most would do an described the women in flattering terms since we live in a culture of niceness (at least public niceness). All that said, we all know this is an ad produced for a specific purpose and isn’t reality.

  • Jenai Goss

    Do you even know what natural beauty means? It means embracing *yourself*, the way you were created, and letting that shine through in all your interactions. It doesn’t mean “your natural self has to fit the world’s standards of beautiful or your careeer is over, agg!” Just the opposite! It means you are comfortable with your natural beauty, as you are (overweight, or tan, or light, or freckled, small noses, big noses, crooked teeth, etc); it doesn’t matter. A natural face with a genuine smile and sincere heart is beautiful, and that is worth a hundred times out in the workforce what a ‘made up’ but ‘beautiful’ face is. (This is also why guys are often attracted to girls in sweatpants or simple ponytails without makeup, whereas they might not notice even if you doll up. It’s how bubby/confident/radiant you are with, the comfort level you have with yourself, that they are drawn to)

    [Which isn't to say makeup is always bad, and can even be quite nice/professional, but it should never be used to 'cover' low self esteem or 'attract' men. What attracts others is your natural beauty].

    I got what she meant (probably because I figured out the same thing a long time ago) and I thought the message was lovely.

  • Amber Barnes

    Then why aren’t there a greater variety of women in this? If its truly about “embracing yourself”, then why are all the featured women all white, pretty, thin and under 40? This is Advertising 101: pull at your heartstrings with tender stories and you never notice how you’re being manipulated into certain views and mindsets that set you up to want their products.

    Why is it that we keep constantly associating confidence, approval, and looks with beauty? Do we tell men to accept their natural beauty? Do we assure boys that they’re beautiful to their parents/family/others? No? Because beauty is a demand, a price we women are expected to pay to the rest of the world for being women. That’s why beauty is forever and intrinsically tied to womens’ worth. Why does it have to be about how “bubbly/confident/radiant you are”? Because those traits aren’t steeped in social pressures for women to be happy and pleasing all the damn time. What if I’m not bubbly? Does that mean I don’t have “natural beauty” now?

    I have to wonder where you get your facts about what men find attractive from, because when guys go on about how they want “natural beauty” from women, what a lot of them really mean is that they want flawless, effortless beauty. They want you to be beautiful without burdening them with witnessing the effort and time it takes to obtain that beauty. They dont want to see you sweating and stinking in your baggy gym clothes, they dont want to deal with you spending half an hour in the shower shaving every follicle of hair from your brows down, they dont want to see the bag full of make up and the money you shell out for it. Dont want to see the hairspray or the curling iron or the straightener. They don’t want to be burdened with the reality that the “natural beauty” they want isn’t natural at all. They love you in ponytails and sweatpants as long as the ponytail is perfect and the body in the sweatpants is suitably sexy for them.

    Furthermore, who are you to tell women how or why they should use make up? Women are allowed to use make up however they want and for whatever purpose they want. You’re not the make up police.

  • Anonymous

    What I hated was that they way they introduce the trick, or the realization that the “describers” are going to be so much more generous than the sitters were to themselves, is to have “Chloe” report, “Well, she was thin…”

    So we can all collectively smile in relief, right? Chloe thought that blonde lady was thin! I now have no doubt that Chloe thought the blonde lady was pretty!

    In the “sitter” montage, one woman also describes her face as “rounder,” then is shown hiding her face in her hand.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000731711878 Emma Lloyd

    “When advertising goes right”, as long as you’re white and thin.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    What the hell are you rambling on about? Are you implying that women want to look pretty to impress men? That’s pretty darn sexist. Most women I know, myself included, don’t give a fuck about what men think. They only want to look a certain way for themselves. Whether that involves kicking back in sweats or spending hours on hair and makeup doesn’t matter. There’s a difference between being beautiful and feeling beautiful. To feel beautiful is to feel confident with ourselves and our own body. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  • Anonymous

    All the complaints here about the corporation behind the ad, hidden agendas, conspiracies, fabrications, yada yada. How does the message in the ad make YOU feel? Me, it touched me. That is what I take away from it, not the bitterness that some of you reduce everything to.

  • Amber Barnes

    What’s sexist is telling women how and why they should wear make up, which is exactly what the poster I responded to did. If a woman wants to wear make up because she wants to attract men, that’s great. If a woman wears it because it makes her feel good about herself, that’s also fine. If a woman wears make up for artistic expression or for fun, that’s awesome as well.

    Im sick of “beautiful” being synonymous with every positive feeling women experience about themselves. It always goes back to being beautiful. Always always always.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    I suppose it depends on your definition of beautiful then.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Agreed. It’s OK to not be “beautiful.” There are other things to be.