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Marketing Spin Disquised as Self Esteem Change

Posted Jul 22 2010 12:00am

Today’s post welcomes a new contributor, Snezna Kerekovic, from Sydney Australia . She is the creator of Bellaboo Babe brand cosmetics, organic, and made just for teens. The best thing about Bellaboo is the focus is on positive self esteem and body image, and getting REAL (while also celebrating being a girl).

Snezna and I met a few months ago, and since her efforts are completely aligned with ours at WATRD, it seemed a perfect fit to have her come aboard as a contributor. Plus her writing style was just what we are looking for.


You probably are all familiar with the DOVE self esteem campaign. If not, it’s all about highlighting how girls today are inundated with beauty images that batter their sense of self esteem. They run workshops at schools for young girls around self esteem.

On the surface you would think that is fantastic and kudos to DOVE for such an inspiring program. Right?

As a brand that is pushing the whole self esteem for girls message. I have an issue with the DOVE campaign. (FYI – WATRD officially boycotted Dove, after being long time supporters of the program….we finally saw through their b.s. too).

How can Dove, which is owned by Unilever, on the one hand bang on about how bad girls feel about themselves due to the mixed media messages that assail them on a daily basis and on the other, feature scantily clad women in semi porn ad campaigns for another of their brands – Lynx. (FYI, Lynx is the same brand as AXE sold in the US)

The Lynx ads are selling women as sex objects and DOVE is offering workshops at schools to make girls feel better about themselves. Pot. Kettle. Black. Anyone??

So we have the same company creating campaigns that objectify girls as sex objects, portraying a one dimensional view of beauty, and at the same time putting itself up as an advocate against the media assault of one dimensional beauty and sexual objectification. Aaah, call me cynical, but WTF?? This is the equivalent of a fast food chain getting kids hooked on junk food via extensive marketing and then rolling out with a schools program to encourage healthy eating. Hypocrisy with a capital H!!!

Unilever argues that both campaigns are suited to their different demographics. But, hang on, the premise of the DOVE self esteem campaign is a video showing a young girl assailed by media messages from TV ads, print ads, billboards, movies and the like. Ads aimed at women and men, not the demo of young girls. Doesn’t this suggest that all those companies that put out these sexualized, one dimensional media messages are making young girls feel bad? Umm, what do you think the Lynx is doing to girls Unilever?

If a company is serious about this issue of self esteem then what you do as a company across the board should reflect that, surely! You can’t say, hey the media and brands are to blame for how girls are feeling. We as a brand, and company, are doing something about it by running workshops to make girls feel better. But, hey, we have this other brand that uses girls as sex objects but that’s ok because it’s a different demo. Again, wtf?? It is total hypocrisy disguised as marketing mumbo jumbo!

Has self esteem become marketing currency? I hope not. How young girls feel about themselves is one of the biggest issues facing these girls. We need media and brands to embrace it and approach it holistically – that means talking the talk and walking the walk in everything you do.

When Unilever changes it’s Lynx campaign to be pro-women of diversity, strength and non-sexualized is when I will start believing they are in the business of making change vs simply making money!

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