World’s best ads ever #36: Dove’s ‘Evolution’ changes the face of beauty marketing
We asked our readers to vote for their favorite commercials of all time. Top creatives from the World Creative Rankings and The Drum’s Judges’ Club then ranked the ads. Now, we bring you the definitive 100 best TV and video ads of all time.
What do we think of when we talk about beauty standards in the noughties? Low-rise jeans, blown-out hair, perfect skin and thin white supermodels might be some of the images that spring to mind. Dove’s ‘Evolution’ campaign sought to correct some of those unrealistic expectations placed on women by debunking the way beauty was presented in the media at the time.
When Dove launched the ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ in 2004, it was in response to the findings of a major study, The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report, which had revealed that only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful. To highlight the unrealistic beauty standards placed on women, ‘Evolution’, created by Ogilvy, showed a timelapse sequence of a model being prepared for a shoot, capturing the reality of the amount of time and work it takes a whole team of people to make her billboard-ready.
Stephanie Betts, the woman in question, was not a professional model but a cartoonist. At the time she said she was reluctant to pose, but changed her mind when she saw the level of artifice involved in creating the final image, through makeup, lighting and Photoshop. “Lengthening my neck, making my eyes bigger – I was blown away by that,” said Betts.
The final image of the ad is of Betts’ manipulated image on a billboard, as two young girls walk past, look up and admire her. The video fades to the statement, ‘No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted’, before inviting women of all ages to participate in Dove’s ‘real beauty’ workshops to help women and girls boost their self-image.
Since the noughties, Dove has continued to campaign for the wellbeing of girls, especially when it comes to body image and self-esteem. ‘Reverse Selfie’ was launched last year, addressing how the prevalence of Photoshop and filters on social media has worsened the crisis in young women’s poor self-image.
As in 2006, the 2021 campaign marks the beginning of a new activist chapter for Dove, as the brand steps up its efforts to change the toxic nature of the beauty industry and highlight threats to the self-esteem of young people across the world.