Dove's New Bottles Have a Message, and Some Hate It

They're designed to mimic the shape of women
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2017 2:03 PM CDT
A Few Explanations on Why Dove's New Campaign Fails
Dove is inviting women to pick the bottle that matches their body shape, at least in the UK.   (YouTube)

Dove's latest ad idea doesn't appear on its bottles—it is the bottles. The company has rolled out "limited edition" body wash in the UK packaged in bottles of various shapes, the idea being that women come in various shapes, too. "Every woman’s version of beauty is different and, if you ask us, these differences are there to be celebrated," says a company statement on the Real Beauty Bottles campaign. (See a company video.) Unfortunately for Dove, reaction has been less than kind.

  • At the Atlantic, Ian Bogost digs into the nuances of advertising to point out the campaign's failings. Among the points: Imagine a pear-shaped woman in a drug store having to choose between the bottles. "She must also present this proxy for a body—the one she has? the one she wishes she did?—to a cashier to handle and perhaps to judge," he writes. "What otherwise would have been a body-image-free trip to the store becomes a trip that highlights body image."
  • Ditto the general sentiment at Quartz: This type of "empowering advertising" just winds up "exploiting the very female insecurities that it claims to destroy," writes Annalisa Merelli. "Well-intentioned or not, the message behind all of these campaigns is the same we’ve always heard: Be beautiful."
  • At AdWeek, however, Tim Nudd thinks it's an "inspired packaging stunt," one in sync with Dove's theme of celebrating "body-diverse beauty." The post includes a quote from creator Ogilvy UK saying it's "one of those rare ideas which condenses decades of a brand’s legacy in two seconds."
  • And a post at Creativity has the ad among its top five "brand ideas of the week."

  • But that's the minority view. A Jezebel blogger puts the problem in question form: "What doorway would you walk through if one was labeled 'Beautiful Bottle' and the other was labeled 'Average Bottle'?" writes Aimee Lutkin. "Until every woman sees herself as a beautiful bottle, Dove’s lessons on #RealBeauty aren’t over."
  • Mashable blogger Alex Hazlett has some questions, including, "Do the body-positive bottles cost the same as normal ones, or will we pay a premium for our empowerment?"
  • It's "silly at best, condescending at worst," writes Kristen Bellstrom
    at Fortune. Companies that champion messages like this might occasionally do some good, but this is a reminder that these campaigns have but one real purpose: "to sell you their stuff."
  • New York rounds up mocking memes with a common theme: People choosing a different bottle that captures their essence, like one of those bear-shaped honey bottles. And Twitter is on fire with put-downs, including this gem: "Can someone come over and help me measure my butt so I know which dove body wash to buy"
(More Dove stories.)

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