Scatter Brain says:
In 1970, Ray Stevens hit it big on the pop charts with his single, Everyone Is Beautiful In Their Own Way. America loved the song, but evidently the beauty industry’s marketers and advertisers turned a deaf ear.
For decades now in an attempt to sell beauty products, these companies have convinced us that we need to have shinier hair, straighter hair, curlier hair, clearer skin, minimize wrinkles, alleviate bumps, have fewer lumps, firmer necks, straighter teeth, whiter teeth, bigger boobs, flatter stomachs, junk in the trunk, no cellulite, hairless legs, hairless armpits, painted nails, smooth feet, higher cheekbones, lower foreheads, poutier lips, perfectly sculpted eyebrows and smell really, really good.
Seriously, did you know that women shave underarms and legs because of a targeted marketing assault from depilatory and razor manufacturers? A 1982 article from the Journal of American Culture by Christine Hope entitled “Caucasian Female Body Hair and American Culture” states that U.S. women were motivated into shaving underarm hair by a sustained marketing campaign that began in 1915 with an ad in Harper’s Bazaar for a depilatory product that informed the reader, “Summer Dress and Modern Dancing combine to make necessary the removal of objectionable hair.” In 1922, women’s razors made their debut in the Sears and Roebuck catalogue. I had a college roommate who learned all of this in a marketing class and in protest stopped shaving legs and armpits. Come the summer sundress season, it was NOT a pretty sight.
Which leads me to my point. Conscious effort or no, this bombardment from these companies telling us how we should look has caused some profound shifts in our attitudes about ourselves. Many medical professionals look to the media and cosmetic and beauty advertising in particular as culprits in the rise of eating disorders and self-esteem issues that seem to be particularly prevalent among teenage girls.
I was around when Twiggy hit the scenes and the ultra thin waif look has never really left the modeling industry. And unfortunately, this is where so many images of how we think we should look come from. I have read recently that the fashion industry is starting to mandate weight minimums for models, especially after the death of one model from an eating disorder.
That’s why I am so thrilled and fascinated by Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. This all-encompassing advertising campaign features women of all ages, ethnicities and sizes. They don’t have perfect hair, they don’t all have straight teeth, a few have lumps and a few have bumps but they are all beautiful.
Now, I’m not here to discuss Dove products and whether or not they make any claims that are questionable from an advertising standpoint. I’m here to applaud them in their efforts to market to real women. And I am certainly not the first to recognize this. This marketing and coordinated advertising effort is receiving kudos from celebrities and regular women from all over the world because it resonates.
It’s refreshing to see women like you and me who aren’t air brushed and aren’t fluffed, buffed and sent to a professional hair stylist before being photographed or filmed. This is advertising I can get behind. Not only as an advertising professional and a creative writer, but also as the mother of a teenage girl that I watch like a hawk for any of the tell tale signs that she’s succumbing to the lure of the cosmetics and beauty industry hype.
Dove has gone even farther than using real women in their ads. They’ve established a self-esteem fund to help girls see themselves as the beautiful human beings.
Dove’s advertising agency, Ogilvy and Mather has done some groundbreaking work for this company in the tradition of their founder, advertising pioneer David Ogilvy. Among the best of this work are three short films/long commercials. One is entitled Evolution and shows how a model is made ready for a photo shoot. Another is called Onslaught and is a rather alarming montage of the images we are bombarded with from the beauty industry. The third is ProAge featuring tastefully nude women in their 50′s and 60′s all of whom are gorgeous.
In fact, hold your head high. We ARE all beautiful.
To see more of this landmark advertising, you can go to Ogilvy and Mather’s creative portfolio on the web here: http://www.ogilvy.com/portfolio/portfolio.php or to the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty on the web here: http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.com/
Scatter Brain is a real-life copywriter for hire. If you’re interested in contacting her with business opportunities, please write to “Scatter Brain” care of email@example.com.