Dove's latest #SpeakBeautiful campaign comes under fire for 'policing women's self-expression'

Dove's #SpeakBeautiful comes under fire for 'policing women's self-expression'

Dove is facing a backlash on social media after launching the latest phase of its #SpeakBeautiful campaign which seeks to "spread positivity" online.

The Unilever-owned brand has courted mixed reaction on Twitter for the initiative which encourages women to partake in a 're-do' challenge. The concept requires women to ask friends who are being negative online, be it about themselves or others, to post two positive tweets for every cynical one they share using the hashtag #SpeakBeautiful.

Published yesterday (18 October), the tweet is part of a wider project from the company to combat trolling around female body image and appearance. The campaign is based on the fact that over 5m negative tweets about beauty and body image were published in 2015, and aims to flood Twitter with messages of support and positivity.

Back in March the launch video provoked controversy for striking the wrong tone with women, with the Washington Post accusing Dove of appointing itself as the "Internet's positivity police," and saying that the FMCG's brand was being "invasive."

Seven months on, and the latest iteration has caused waves again, with dozens of replies criticising Dove for "telling women how they should feel."

Others, meanwhile, 'fixed' the campaign for Dove with some interpretations of their own.

Some of the responses online were positive, with a separate tweet linking to a 'Speak Beautiful Digital Glossary' compiled by MTV host Franchesca Ramsey has clocked up a lot of Retweets.

The response to Dove's initiative follows on from a promise by Unilever to stamp out stereotyping in its advertising. In September, the company's executive vice-president of global marketing Aline Santos, told how the crusade was helping it grow its brands.

“[We want to apply the model to] all brands in the Unilever portfolio, that is something that we want to do as a company,” she said at the time. “But this isn’t something that is going to happen overnight. We have been bold enough to say that is what we want to do, that is our commitment and if people want to judge us and say ‘oh you didn’t do it here’, then yes you are right we didn’t, but we have started something and it is very serious commitment."

The Drum has reached out to Dove for further comment on the #SpeakBeautiful campaign and will update this article if it responds.

Search The Drum Jobs

Explore the best jobs in Marketing and Media industries
View all open jobs

Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. Based in London, she writes news, analysis and features around brand marketing and digital innovation. She has interviewed key figures from the likes of Airbnb, Amnesty International, Unilever, Facebook and Spotify, as well as covering international events like Ad Week Europe, Dmexco and Ciclope.

All by Rebecca