How Dove ruined its image by offending its most loyal fans

By | 11/05/2017

“Discover how we reaffirmed our commitment to beauty confidence with 6 exclusive bottles, that celebrate bodies of all shapes and sizes.”

This was the starting point for Dove’s latest campaign in the UK. But while Dove (part of Unilever) in the past had become everybody’s darling in the branding and marketing society, this campaign eventually backfired – offending some of the brand’s most loyal fans.

The 45-second ad tries to play on the brand’s carefully build image, claiming that “Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes” and “There is no perfect shape”. After a few close-up shots from the plastic bottle factory the ad eventually reveals that the product would for a limited period would be available in six different shapes – from tall and slim to wide and curvy:

Only a few hours after the official campaign start the bad news started to arrive for Dove. The Atlantic claimed that “Dove ruined its body image“, Fast Company stated that people either outright hate it or simply laugh about it. As often, reactions on Twitter were used as an indicator of the campaign’s impact:

So what went wrong? Dove’s previous campaigns had received so much praise and was so extremely successful in the market because they gave people the feeling of being appreciated and valuable. The current campaign goes well beyond that, indeed reminding users of the product of their shape every single day when using it (and in a much more intimate context than simply on TV – in people’s own shower!).

2 thoughts on “How Dove ruined its image by offending its most loyal fans

  1. Mary Johnston

    These bottles were made by Dove as a gift in a set of 7 to be given to women who were supporting positive body confidence. They were gifted around the world quietly since February as a thank you. Then an American publication picked up the story incorrectly with a headline that suggested they were for sale and put it on twitter. Complete misunderstanding.

    1. Nils Koenig Post author

      Thanks for sharing, Mary. I couldn’t find any support for this perspective yet however. I haven’t seen a response from Dove in this respect and as I understand the video is obviously meant for public display.


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