In the ad entitled “Dove Choose Beautiful: Women all over the world make a choice,” we see two doors set up in cities around the world, one door saying “beautiful” and the other saying “average.” Naturally, the clip ends positively, encouraging women of all ages to acknowledge and embrace their uniqueness and individuality, and recognize that they are all beautiful. However, it was interesting to me that throughout the entire video, Dove products weren’t mentioned. There weren’t any soaps, lotions, or shampoos. There wasn’t even strategically placed branding! However, after further analysis, I realized that the reason there wasn’t much branding was because Dove didn’t need it. They understood their audience, and framed an issue in a way that they knew would appeal to their demographic.
Dove opened their ad with women from a wide range of the population—older women and younger women, women of different ethnicities, and different groups of women. Friends, family, siblings, strangers. They chose an issue that has been prevalent in our day and age—self-esteem. As a beauty company, they chose to frame it in a very unique way. Instead of implying that beauty would be attained through the use of their products, they instead chose to focus on the characters of their “story.” Instead of saying “Sally walked through the beautiful door because she used our shampoo,” they chose to make it more of a semiotic connection. The Signifier? Sally. Sally walked through that door because she knew she was beautiful. The Signified? The assumption that the producers of this commercial were likely hoping their audience would draw from this. Sally must use Dove if she is in a Dove commercial. The sign? If Sally is confident in her natural beauty, and Sally uses Dove, then if I use Dove, maybe I’ll be confident in my intrinsic beauty.
However, a second, equally likely possibility is that the producers of this commercial approached the drawing board using reception analysis. Something that really didn’t become a means of studying audience perception until the 1980’s, giving feminists the opportunity to see women as active consumers of media as opposed to passive receivers of media. (Converging Media, 368)
Once we look at it from this perspective, it becomes evident that Dove knew women were becoming increasingly concerned with confidence levels. Thus, creating an ad that focused solely on boosting self-esteem and feelings of self-worth in their audience, was an incredibly intelligent, well-timed, and incredibly executed feat.
This is not to say that Dove made this ad for the sole purpose of “tricking” women into believing they care about natural beauty, self-confidence, and self-love—the company is one that stands for women raising other women, and they took this opportunity to further their agenda while also boosting sales. On Dove’s website, it states “We believe beauty should be a source of confidence, and not anxiety. That’s why we are here to help women everywhere develop a positive relationship with the way they look, helping them raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential.” (www.dove.com) Women who remembered this video and had felt a deep-seated appreciation or connection to it were most likely much more likely to pick up that bar of Dove in the store and spend the extra 10 cents.