Dove’s Latest Ad Campaign Takes Body Positivity Too Far

Thank goodness for Dove’s latest body positivity campaign: After years of searching, I finally have a soap bottle specifically made for my body type! I feel so much better about my body now.

Said no woman ever.

In case you haven’t seen all the ridiculous articles about Dove’s latest advertising campaign, the company came out with soap bottles in different shapes to reflect the different shapes of women’s bodies.

Yes, soap bottles. Because evidently what every woman needed but didn’t have was a helpful dose of body positivity with her morning shower. Consumers can now choose from short and curvy bottles or long and thin bottles, and if your body type isn’t reflected among Dove’s offerings (they only chose to create six different shapes), just pick one that would best fit in your bathroom cabinet.

To explain this unusual marketing campaign, Dove representatives said, “Each bottle evokes the shapes, sizes, curves and edges that combine to make every woman their very own limited edition. They’re one of a kind–just like you. But sometimes we all need reminding of that. Recent research from the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report revealed that one in two women feels social media puts pressure on them to look a certain way. Thankfully, many women are fighting with us to spread beauty confidence.”

I’m not sure how soap bottles spread “beauty confidence,” but okay. Don’t get me wrong, I fully respect all that Dove has done to try to promote body positivity with its products. I am not a size two by any means, so I appreciate seeing women of all sizes represented in ads and the media since most women aren’t shaped like supermodels. But I don’t need a soap bottle to reflect my body type (and honestly, none of their bottles even look remotely like my body type anyway).

And how, precisely, will this make a difference for women? It won’t; and it might even backfire. The campaign is similar in style to the disaster Bic pens found itself in with its “For Her” line of pens, which are somehow still on the market. The pens are rendered in what the company must believe are women-friendly pastel colors, but other than that and the marketing slogans, they are indistinguishable from regular Bic pens. Everyone had a lot of laughs and the pens (not surprisingly) didn’t change anything for women, besides perhaps reminding them that marketers are often way off-base when it comes to trying to reach them.

So does Dove honestly think that by having soap bottles reflecting different body types, they’re going to make a difference in body positivity? Are young girls really going to feel better when they see a soap bottle that looks like their bodies? Is a soap bottle going to help girls overcome anorexia or encourage them to pursue STEM careers?

Probably not. And I’m not the only one who feels this way; this soap bottle campaign has become a laughingstock (my favorite joke so far is “real soaps have curves”).

Predictably, a few people were angry about the soap bottles because they felt Dove was being patronizing; others complained that the bottles “literally objectify women” since they’re personifying women’s bodies as, well, objects.

Whether you’re offended or merely think these bottles are eye-roll worthy, you’re not alone; no one is a fan of these bottles. Instead of continuing its campaign for body positivity, Dove has unwittingly created a product that looks straight out of a Saturday Night Live parody.

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  • InklingBooks

    Marketing can be weird.

    When I was in college, my fellow students and I typically used Bic ballpoint pens because they were the cheapest. We also joked about Bic’s marketing ploy. The only functional difference between Bic’s cheap 29-cent pen and its “accountant” pen at almost twice the price was a metal clip that fit pockets better. All we needed to do was get a clip from the 49-cent version and put it on their 29-cent versions.

    Of course, Bic marketing wasn’t targeting us. They were after those too clueless to see how they were being taken.

    Dove is doing much the same here. They’re after the ‘sucker born every minute’ market. Chattering about body positivity is merely a ploy much like Bic’s “Accountant” labeling.

    Here’s the pen I’m talking about, now apparently a $20 collector’s item.

    https://www.amazon.com/Accountant-Period-Piece-DOES-WRITE/dp/B01M0G9RRU/

    And it is a pen that does not write. That is the ultimate sucker product. Not exactly flying off the shelves though. No sales ranking usually means no sales.

    • noufa

      I just looked up the competed auctions on eBay. They go for about $5/each. You could get a Parker for that price.