There are examples of smart and innovative marketing campaigns on a regular basis. Some companies like Mars manage it multiple times. For example, Skittles won Twitter while avoiding being dragged into a political and philosophical battle. A Snickers campaign let the internet's collective mood set prices.
But some campaigns become iconic examples of how to market well, combining wit and heart. Dove's long-running "Real Beauty" campaign was a total stunner. By deconstructing the concept of officially sanctioned physical beauty, the company and brand reached out to women. Given the long-running nature of the campaign, you might reasonably assume that those women reached back.
That's why the newest phase of the campaign, at least in the U.K. -- creating bottles that represent the various shapes women come in -- seems so out of touch with everything that went before. Or, as a head line in Jezebel read: "Dove's New Diversity in Bottle Shapes Campaign Is Hilariously Stupid."
First, watch the commercial.
As the company says, "Celebrate Beauty Diversity with Limited Edition Body Washes."
From curvaceous to slender, tall to petite, and whatever your skin colour, shoe size or hair type, beauty comes in a million different shapes and sizes. Our six exclusive bottle designs represent this diversity: just like women, we wanted to show that our iconic bottle can come in all shapes and sizes, too.
So, "real beauty breaks moulds" as the video says. And, presumably, when it can't, it just uses a series of molds that women are supposed to fit themselves into. There's the tall-and-skinny Olive Oyl look, willowy, the pear-shaped bottle, one that's top heavy, another that's bottom heavy, the short and dumpy, and a seventh that might make you think you had picked up a bottle of shampoo.
No matter what a woman looks like, she can indulge in happy objectification and throw her lot in with whatever category comes close enough to her reality so she can belong.
Well, maybe belong. You know the whole thing about skin color? All the bottles are white, you know. Talking about what could be called unintentional racism. It doesn't matter if it's true or not, 'cause you know people are going to think it.
Dove has gone from marketing mastery to catastrophe. Here is just some of the social media blowback
thanks dove but i already found a bottle for my shape pic.twitter.com/asuo1vci0O-- Carina Hsieh (@carinahsieh) May 8, 2017
At this point, it's like Dove following you around the store saying "Other people call you fat. Not me! Other people call you fat. Not me..." https://t.co/tbYFzEoLjs-- Sandra Newman (@sannewman) May 8, 2017
Dove's new body-type bottles are getting dunked on by feminist memes https://t.co/FkYDBG0atR-- Maria Williams (@flashnewsportal) May 8, 2017
Hey, @Dove how about making your new bottles rabbit shaped, as a reminder to not test on animals? Positive messages and all that.-- Dazy Graves (@Missdazygraves) May 8, 2017
I will only buy Dove soap if the bottle is shaped like its CEO getting splashed by a truck driving through a huge puddle-- Rachel Jane Andelman (@rajandelman) May 8, 2017
And then there are the practical issues. What retailer is going to stock all of the bottle types? Does Dove think that stores will push other brands off the shelf to help what seems to be an unfortunate marketing campaign?
I wonder if the people responsible for the campaign will be looking for new job shapes to see which ones might be a fit.