Advertisements have long been a staple in society trying to sell products to the public. Products in the early decades was led by the makes of pills, soaps, and similar products. (Williams 18) This advertisement promoted Dove’s beauty bar as not your ordinary soap. What differentiates these ads from others at their time was that they shot natural looking women, without the use of sexualizing them or placing them in role in order to show the benefits of beauty product. It started a trend in beauty advertisements that was revitalized later by the company for Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign.
Dove’s started in 1957, and they launched the product as “The Beauty Bar”, never calling itself soap in order to differentiate itself from other cleansing bars. The advertising company Ogilvy and Mather created the ad campaign that ran in magazines, newspaper prints, and other mediums at that time. Their motto was that “Dove soap doesn’t dry your skin because it’s one quarter cleansing cream.” Unlike companies around them they used ads that often, “presents an image of things to be desired, people to be envied, and life as it “should be.”(Strurken, Cartwright 189).
The ad that this paper is analyzing was printed in 1980. Dove had been in business for over 20 years and developed a reputation as the beauty bar that keeps skin moisturized and never dries it out. The layout feature four “real” women that weren’t typical models to pose for the print ad. The advertisements showed the four women made up in light to heavy makeup, posed in a frontal head shot position. The use of photography showed a well-lit shot with no shadows, and a black back drop to show a “naturalness” of the frames. Each picture features quotes under their picture, with a simple typeface, saying why they love Dove soap, and how it has help beautify their skin. The ad promotes natural beauty through the use of using the product as a generator. The product represents the quality to generate a feeling of being beautiful. By using the soap the women will feel beautiful and their skin will look better. The women all appeared to be slim, Caucasian women that, promoted the “increasingly universal equation of slenderness with beauty and success that has rendered the competing claims of cultural diversity…” (Bordo 164) Unlike other modern advertisements these ad stemmed from decades of women’s liberation and feminist movement that took women away from the stereotypical role of the doting housewife in the kitchen, to showing women able to do the same roles as men. According to Manufacturing of Desire, “modern advertisements were able increasingly to speak to problems of anxiety and identity crisis, and to offer harmony, vitality, and the prospect of self-realization…” (Strurken, Cartwright 197)
The voice that ad spoke in was the contemporary woman breaking away from traditional made up models and voicing their real opinions of the product. Like Ewen wrote, “advertising hoped to elicit the “instinctual” anxieties of social intercourse.” (Ewen 34) Traditionally the women coming into to the 80’s era featured overly made up models that were moving out of the women’s liberation movement, and the fictional women like the Virginia Slims woman that tried to front as supporting the women’s movement but sexualizing them in their adds with their motif, “You’ve come a long way baby.” Later women were seen in the “Superwoman” role that was advertised with women in the office, but still tending to their husband, and worrying about their beauty.
The definition of beauty was expanding and many beauty companies were starting to take notice with more ads targeting women in a more natural way. Like Dove’s motto trying to differ from other soaps by promoting them as a beauty bar, it took a different alternative to advertisements. Like Williamson said, “the identity of anything depends more on what it is not than what it is…” (Williamson, 24) This ad is simple and clean with a message of women’s beauty. By showcasing normal women testifying their love for the product it is promoting their soap as a beauty bar that is used exclusively to make your skin better.
Bordo, Susan. “Hunger as Ideology.” The Consumer Society Reader. 1993. Print. “Dove Soap – Doesn’t Dry Like Soap Does. (1980)” Vintage Ad Browser. 2009. Web. 21 Sep. 2013. http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/search?q=dove&page=5
Ewen, Stuart. Captains of Consciousness. Basic Books. 1974. Book.
Strurken, Marita, Cartwright, Lisa. Consumer Culture and the Manufacturing of Desire. Oxford University Press. 2001. Book
Williamson, Judith. “A currency of signs.” Decoding Advertisements, Ideology and Meaning in Advertising. 1980. Print.
Williams, Raymond. “Adverting. The Magic System.” Advertising & Society Review Vol.1. 2000. Print.