Dove – the personal care brand that has spent more than a decade challenging consumers and media to rethink traditional beauty standards – has attracted criticism for new packaging that mimics women’s physiques.
Not available for sale, the limited run of six plastic body wash bottles come in varying shapes and sizes (tall, slender, pear-shaped, etc.) and is part of a larger U.K.-based marketing campaign that includes a 45-second video.
According to its website, the bottles have been gifted to women around the world who “are using their influence to advance the real beauty debate in their everyday lives and across social media.” The Unilever-owned brand doesn’t say specifically who these women are.
"Each bottle evokes the shapes, sizes, curves and edges that combine to make every woman their very own limited edition," Dove said in a statement. "They're one of a kind — just like you."
It didn’t take long for consumers to chime in on social media. Some expressed their distaste for the campaign, while others poked fun at the bottle designs and compared them to other household items. Abbie Evans called out Dove for not straying from its traditional white packaging.
Media and marketing professionals are questioning what impact this might have on the brand, which has spent more than a decade building its advertising around the idea that women should feel positive about their bodies through its "Real Beauty" campaign.
Since its launch in 2006, Unilever has extended the campaign on multiple fronts to include a play, sleepover events an online soap opera and even self-esteem workshops.
Samantha Skey, president of digital media company She Knows Media, told The Washington Post the campaign felt like a departure for the brand, moving from “ads that are almost painfully sincere and earnest, to something that could literally be a Saturday Night Live skit. Unless you’re trying to mock everything you stand for, I’m not sure why you would do this.”