Dove pays other brands to use different faces in ads
What does it take to get a more diverse set of faces in advertising? Dove wants to find out with a new campaign that offers its own models for free for other brands’ commercials in order to encourage them to new looks.
In It’s On Us, Dove sends an open invitation to every brand and advertiser in the world and offers to pay the Dove models’ appearance fee if they appear in other ads. The models tell how they often arrive at auditions and how they get feedback: Too dark. Too short. Too thick. Not a good fit.
Created by Madrid-based agency LOLA MullenLowe, this is a natural evolution of the 2019 “Project #ShowUs”, where Dove worked with Getty Images to create more than 10,000 different stock photos that can be shared with other brands. Since then, more than 2,000 companies have downloaded these images for use. This is the brand that wants to take the idea even further by using cold money to pull brands out of a standard advertising approach that often favors thin, white, heterogeneous models.
So far, four brands have added Dove to its open offering: Magnum Ice Cream, Cif Soap, South African financial institution Nedbank, and Krispy Kreme.
Dove is owned by Unilever, a global company that spends more than $ 6 billion on advertising annually. The parent company seems to be taking a bit of its own medicine as it also owns both Magnum and Cif. Unilever made a commitment earlier this year to rid its ads of stereotypes. But it’s not a new explanation. The company made a similar pledge in 2016 after its own research found that 40% of women say they don’t identify at all with the women they see in ads in general. This week, Dove reported in his press release on the campaign that 70% of women “feel unrepresented in the media and advertising, and women’s lives are affected by these limitations, exclusions and stereotypes every day.” According to Unilever’s own research, this sense of misrepresentation appears to have increased over the past five years.
As a promotional strategy, it’s a smart move for Dove. Since 2004, when the brand launched The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove has built its entire brand around celebrating beauty across a wide spectrum. Since then, it has created compelling advertising on the subject that has both caught consumer attention and won awards, from “Evolution” in 2006 to “Real Beauty Sketches” in 2013, among others.
In a statement, Tomas Ostiglia, Executive Creative Director of LOLA MullenLowe Madrid said: “This project really showed how difficult it is to promote real beauty in advertising. Even if Dove’s real beauty women brands are offered for free. Hopefully this campaign will encourage many more to really do something about this problem. “
Encourage is a word. Ad shaming is better. Perhaps the latter strategy is one that could finally work, since diversity and representation in advertising are topics that brands and advertisers have been talking about for eons. But, as this campaign can attest, with little success. The problem remains that it is much easier to post a black square in solidarity with Black Lives Matter on the company’s Instagram feed than to change institutional practices. We see this in hires and promotions, and we see it reflected in advertising.
It’s sad that this kind of shame has to exist from a commercial contemporary like Dove in the first place, but it just shows how sustained activism, like that of organizations like Color of Change, is as important as ever to forcing brands to To care as much about how they act, how they do it, how they look.