Thanks to the development of the media and social networks, people think about what is happening in the media space and express their opinion about it. Discussion of a Facebook post, a tweet, or a video can be complex, or even aggressive because content creators have tackled a controversial topic. One of the examples of such socially significant media phenomena is the Dove advertising campaign “Real Beauty.” The purpose of this paper is to consider the campaign according to the theory of social comparison and to think over a behavior strategy in this situation.
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Dove is one of the world’s largest companies producing cosmetics and hygiene products, so the image is very important for them. Their early “Real Beauty” advertising campaign was successful because it resonated with the hearts of its target audience: ordinary women. From the point of view of the theory of social comparison, it is common for people to compare themselves with others in order to better understand themselves. That is why women who saw someone similar to themselves in the ads positively accepted this marketing move. Most of the advertising at that time used idealized images of models, so the Dove advertising campaign presented in a particularly favorable light.
Undoubtedly, in the case of later advertising campaigns, Dove could not leave the negative public response unanswered. It is always necessary to maintain an established positive image and patiently communicate with the audience. That is why Dove chose the best possible strategy: to reach out to consumers, explain misunderstandings, and apologize. Even though the trust of a small part of the audience may be lost forever, the rest will treat the company with understanding and respect. Researchers note that an important issue is “positioning the product so that consumers understand its ability to meet their needs and wants” (Marshall and Johnston, p. 85). In this case, Dove successfully achieved this goal, defending its products and image to consumers.
However, after an unsuccessful attempt to advertise a product in an unusual way, a company should not stop the whole process and come up with something radically new. Usually, there is always an opportunity to fix everything by changing existing advertising. For example, in the case of the 2011 “VisibleCare” advertisement, the company’s marketers could change the position of objects in the image. At least, if women do not stand on the principle “from darker to lighter skin”, this will already make this advertisement safer for the Dove image.
Dove could make the “Real Beauty” ad campaign more acceptable to the public by shifting the emphasis. The fact that they show diverse and completely ordinary women is a positive factor. However, often women are not concerned about the color of their skin, but about their weight. Playing around the body shape would be a better option, in addition, it is easier. The very first advertisement for “Real Beauty” focuses more on this; therefore, returning to the original version would be the most correct decision.
It is very difficult to create a perfect ad that everyone likes. For this reason, Dove needs to analyze its previous campaigns, as well as the public’s reaction to them. It is important to consider both positive and negative reviews in order to get the complete picture. In addition, even if there is a negative, it needs to be treated with understanding and courtesy, and in no case ignored. People who actively criticize Dove’s advertising policies need to get a prompt and polite response. The company needs to make it clear that they are respected, even if Dove doesn’t fully share their opinion. Only in this case, Dove can achieve success with the audience and maintain dignity.
Marshall, Greg, and Mark Johnston. Marketing management, 3e. McGraw-Hill Education, 2019.
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