When Tush Comes to Dove
Real women. Real curves. Really smart ad campaign.
These Dove ads say it's cool to be round and hefty … so long as your skin is taut and firm and perfect. (And, in case you're curious, Dove says these photos were not retouched at all.) But what's that, you say? You love your real curves, but you've got a little cellulite? Girl, run out and buy our hocus-pocus cream right now! Those cottage cheese thighs are vile! Dear God, cover them up!
Short-Term Grade: A.These ads are real attention getters—everyone's talking about them. On that level, they're a smashing success. Also, Dove now owns the "friend of the everywoman" angle. Smart move on their part to spot this open niche and grab it. Finally, if I can get sappy for a moment, it is sort of nice to see the unperfect have their day in the sun.
Overall Grade: D.Sadly, this is not a winning play for the long haul. If Dove keeps running ads like this, women will get bored with the feel-good, politically correct message. Eventually (though perhaps only subconsciously), they'll come to think of Dove as the brand for fat girls. Talk about "real beauty" all you want—once you're the brand for fat girls, you're toast.
Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.
Images courtesy of Unilever.