Don’t Tell Me I Am Beautiful
For a campaign that was intended to inspire people, Dove’s Beauty Sketches has received quite a bit of criticism. Among the complaints lodged have been:
- It only reinforces our culture’s reliance on physical beauty as the ultimate judgment
- It lacks diversity
- It’s hypocritical coming from the company that also makes Axe commercials
- It portrays women as victims
- It reinforces stereotypes about beauty
From a brand communication standpoint, I take issue with the declarative statement at the end of the spot, “You are more beautiful than you think.” I really don’t need anyone, much less a brand, telling me I’m beautiful.
Back in the 70’s, American Express warned me, “Don’t Leave Without It,” and in the 90’s, Nike invited me to “Just Do It” as Apple inspired me to “Think Different.” But now, as cultural power has shifted from corporations to consumers, it no longer seems appropriate for brands to be making such declarative statements.
In fact, Nike’s vice-president of digital sport, Stefan Olander, recently told Adweek that the relationship between his company and its customers has changed so much that the company’s legendary tagline almost no longer applies: “We have the phenomenal privilege of having one of the most powerful brand statements of all time in ‘Just Do It.’ The change, though, is that people now demand us not to say, ‘Just Do It,’ they say ‘Help me just do it.’ ‘Enable me to just do it.’ “
In keeping with the idea of evolved brand relationships, Dove would captured its role with customers more appropriately if, instead of telling me what to think, it had inspired me with the question “Are you more beautiful than you think?”