“Real Beauty” is only pocket deep

Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty is incredible, right?  If you haven’t seen it take a look at these videos:

Finally, a company that standing up for women and disconnecting women’s value from their looks or sex appeal.  This is in stark contrast to the majority of horrific ad campaigns that teach us that women’s worth lies in their beauty and level of sexiness.  One of the worst offenders is Axe grooming products for men.  I have written about them before. In case you aren’t familiar, take a look at these ads:

Terrible, right?  I mean, it’s a good thing we have things like the Campaign for Real Beauty to help combat the awful messages embedded in those Axe ads.  It is easy to see the differences in these two campaigns.  However, can you tell what they have in common?  How about this…


You see Unilever, the makers of Axe, are also the makers of Dove.  Let me repeat that.  The makers of Axe are also the makers of Dove.  The same money that backs the horrific Axe advertising campaigns comes from the same pockets that created the Campaign for Real Beauty.  Ponder that for a moment.  I have been pondering it for quite some time.  I don’t want to believe it, but I have no choice.  Fact is fact whether I like it or not.  So…what does this all mean?

Well, to me it means that Unilever is playing all of us for fools.  They are also proving to me that they have no real interest in crumbling the beauty industry or increasing girls self esteem or making the world and equal place for women to live as the campaign would lead you to believe.  No.  They only care about making money.  The Campaign for Real Beauty, to Dove, is nothing more than an advertising campaign cleverly disguised as an attempt at bringing justice to the world.  Ah, Capitalism!

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I do believe that the Campaign for Real Beauty is wonderful and it should be blasted from every mountain top.  However, I feel that we as consumers cannot abide this sort of underhanded deception being doled out by Unilever.  We must demand that Unilever stop undermining the powerful and necessary work of their own campaign and start advertising Axe in a way that is consistent with the messaging in the Campaign for Real Beauty.  We should accept no less.  After all, it is our children that will live in the world we are creating today and it is ultimately our money that deepens the corporate pockets of irresponsible companies like Unilever who gladly profit at the expense of women.

Ultimately, we have no direct control over Unilever or any other corporation.  However, we can control our own behaviors and actions.  We can choose to let Unilever know we feel about their advertising practices.  We can also choose to not purchase any Unilever products until they change.  No more Wishbone salad dressing.  No more Vaseline products.  No more Skippy peanut butter.  No more Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream (yes, them too).  No more Unilever.  For a complete list of Unilever products visit http://www.unileverusa.com/ourbrands/.  Be sure to click around and do your homework.  Our actions dictate their actions.

We have the power to send a clear message.  We have the power to create a world where women’s bodies are no longer a commodity.  We have the power to create real change.  If we are willing to come together and take action.

Now THAT would be real beauty!

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10 thoughts on ““Real Beauty” is only pocket deep

  1. Tara says:

    Any publicly traded corporation is legally defined as existing solely to produce profits for its shareholders, nothing more. The corporate board can actually be fined and replaced for the sin of behaving in an altruistic or communally responsible way if it undermines profits. So, Unilever is just behaving as a corporation is wont to behave. You are quite right to instigate a boycott. It is only through impacting their profits that they would even be legally allowed to take any action on the matter. It should be easy for me to participate since Dove clogs my pores and Axe smells like cat pee. The only females a man might find following him if he sprayed himself with Axe would be house cats. So, they aren’t only damaging women’s self esteem, they are falsely advertising the impact of their product on men’s sex appeal.
    A more lasting answer to this and a whole host of other societal evils would be to campaign to alter the legal definition of the corporation to include an ethical responsibility to the community, culture, eco-system, etc. Corporations are also considered to be legal individuals. I am VERY anti-death penalty for actual humans but perhaps we could impose a corporate death penalty for psychopathic corporations who commit atrocities. Union Carbide, anyone? What if we penalized corporate individuals in the same manner that we penalize humans? We could do more than impose slap on the wrist fines. We could restrict their access to markets or right to do business for a certain amount of time.
    The problem you have outlined is a real one but at its core it is just a symptom of the larger issue. Corporations have essentially evolved into parasitic colony organisms that prey on humanity and their activity needs to be curbed, their legal definition altered and the power they wield in society needs to be limited. How do we do this? I don’t know. Boycotts are certainly a more effective way of modifying corporate behavior than government fines. We would need to exorcise the corporate money from our houses of government for any government oversight to carry any meaning whatsoever.

  2. Robert Arjet says:

    “We can also choose to not purchase any Unilever products until they change. ”

    Another way of thinking about it is that Dove and Axe have offered us a very clear choice of how to spend our money. While Unilever may own both brands, there are still three definable entities in the mix here–Unilever, Axe, and Dove. And while Unilever may not care about the social implications of their marketing, they do pay very, very close attention to how well each brand sells.

    Unilever has, in effect, sent out two trial balloons. If Dove products sell very, very well, and Axe products rot on the shelves, the people who run Unilever will notice that.

    If Wheaties (bizarre analogy, but bear with me) decided to split into two brands called “Racist Wheaties” and “Anti-Racist Wheaties,” and decorated the boxes of the former with Klansmen and Neo-Nazis, and the latter with Civil Rights leaders, I’m going to guess that the latter would sell a lot better. People would vote with their dollars, and the folks at Wheaties would shut down the racist brand pretty quickly.

    Unilever, essentially, is offering us the choice between “Misogynist Body Care” and “Pro-Woman Body Care” brands. Granted, they have very different target markets, but it seems to me that each brand is asking a question of the American consumer. One is, “Will misogynist marketing sell aftershave?” and the other is “Will pro-woman marketing sell soap?” I vote for answering the former in the negative with a boycott, and the latter in the affirmative with a purchase.

    As Tara points out, corporations are obligated to make money. Consumers have it in their power to decide which kind of marketing makes money, and thus strongly influence that corporation’s actions.

  3. Katherine Boyd says:

    I dig this,thank you. I can’t see videos at the moment, but get the gist. I wanted to add:
    as a man, isn’t it a pisser that the propaganda would dictate that a man’s worth is based primarily on the physical appearance of the woman showing interest in him at a moment? That it takes a particular woman to make a man? Why is a woman in an add for a men’s product? Isn’t he good enough without needing a woman to validate his worth?

  4. Jeremy says:

    You never cease to amaze me, Ted! I love it! I thought about this a while whenever I found out they were both owned by the same corporation, too. Also, after I read your first blog about Axe I emailed unilever personally, not expecting a response- and well of course I didn’t get one HA! Thanks for this blog, and the great insight you always bring to the table.

  5. I am breathing the biggest sigh of relief and joy that YOU got this. Almost no one gets this. Dove is manipulating women and girls to think they care – but they are perpetrating all of the myths that hurt us. AND they make a skin product sold to Indian girls to lighten their skin – so they can find a “better” husband” – make a better match.

    A big thank you!! BIG.

  6. Thanks for all the positive comments. I really appreciate it. Thanks for the wonderful insight as well. Please share this article with everyone you know. The first step toward creating change is building awareness.

  7. Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! 🙂

  8. Dor says:

    As Zoe already mentioned, Fair and Lovely is the product name I believe. I thought of it and Unilever the moment I saw this post! I knew the Dove Real Beauty campaign was too good to be true. And Fair and Lovely isn’t just marketed toward women – there’s one for men too. I guess real beauty doesn’t extend to darker skin, just body size! I’m truly glad and thankful someone is making sure people know and don’t assume Dove is 100% clean on the advertising front.

    This reminds me of BMW’s short films http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hire. There was one centered on a woman being abused but I wasn’t fooled into thinking BMW gave two sh*ts about issues beyond sales.

    Keep up the good work!

  9. Dor says:

    I just wanted to add that the questions “Will misogynist marketing sell aftershave?” and the other is “Will pro-woman marketing sell soap?” seems to suggest to me that Unilever is making sure both sides are covered – that they earn money either way/have their cake and eat it too.

  10. laura says:

    ¿Do you know Unilever is deforestating Borneo so they can plant palm trees to obtain palm oil? DO NOT BUY UNILEVER PRODUCTS

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