Dove Love, “Daughters,” & Industry Backlash

daughters filmCan’t get enough of the Dove blitz? You’re not alone.

So far, about 9400 replies are posted on Dove’s Self Esteem Forum, plus another 2200 in their site’s Body Image forum. There are some raw, jangled nerves out there, particularly the heart-wrenching comments coming from teens.

Yeah, yeah, Dove is selling good will along with their soap. So what? Bravo! Encore!

Now, check out their less-slick, lesser-known “Daughters” film which adds a mini-documentary element to the mix. It’s a 2:41 reality peek into young girls’ lives, using “up close & personal” snippets with quick cut conveyance of the issue’s massive scope.

Despite my industry cohorts who blast Dove for hypocrisy or yawn in ‘tell me something new’ fashion, Dove’s new effort is getting some traction.

There’s even a mirrored parody of their True Colors commercial called “Dog Campaign for Real Beauty” that features “awww” cute pets with close-ups and dissolves to text like, “Wishes he had spots.”

Some may see the puppy spoof as trivializing, or drawing some cruel subversive corollary between girls and ‘dogs’ but as a hound-loving media maven this seems warm-spirited, gentle and sweet to me, with ‘pass around potential’ which could actually boost the Dove Self Esteem Fund’s exposure to a whole new audience. Besides, kids will love it.

Clearly, the floodgates for dialogue are wide open and emotions are running high. There’s white hot heat on this topic that’s been smoldering for years.

Males have chimed in on steroid use and buffed boy expectations. Gender wars have ignited with flaming phraseology. And thankfully, compassion and reason have snuffed out the sardonic sniping between the sexes…usually a mere entry or two down in the blogosphere.

People are sure talking!

A few clicks around YouTube reveal 400 comments on some feeds, several hundred on others, an anti-Dove boycott video accusing Dove of masterminded marketing ploys, and lots of regional variations of “True Colors” which put many of us with tweens in teary-eyed tissue-tugging mode when it launched earlier this year.

Yet from an industry point of view, the polarity of the Dove effort astounds.

It’s a love it or hate it proposition.

Every day I access media and marketing rags to try to see all sides and attempt to keep a somewhat even keel voice for the massive middle.

It’s hard to fathom Dove’s positive message could be slammed with such negative vehemence, but…wow.

The pendulum swings from tenuous praise to angry angst with epithets like pretentious, manipulative and self-serving hurled at Dove regularly.

If AdFreak is any indication, the defensive, nastiness quotient has shot up a notch with sophomoric expletives catapulted at just about anyone who even dares to post a comment applauding Dove’s message.

AdRants, usually known for its mammary fixations and T&A ogling looks surprisingly erudite and balanced by comparison.

No wonder media is vilified and demonized as a bunch of reckless self-serving nimwits! The industry voice being shared with the public is downright hostile, flinging uncouth put-downs and lobbing the ‘f’ word at random whenever someone poses a differing view. Not terribly representative.

Of the printable quotes, one says, “It’s sad that women fall for such a transparent reverse-psychology campaign.” Another implies anyone that likes the ad is absurdly naïve for “buying into the fantasy” that Dove gives a rip. Others patronize, ‘Duh, they’re marketing.’ Or serve up walloping doses of dripping sarcasm with disheartening regularity…

It’s perplexing. Each week Shaping Youth’s consortium grows, adding agency writers, producers, filmmakers, and art directors that say “I hear ya” and enthusiastically support our work. Many are heavy hitter execs and parents themselves who applaud Shaping Youth’s efforts to light a candle in the wind and take on the media-moguls from within.

So where is THEIR voice? Is it only hipster non-parents that blog online?

Each time Shaping Youth speaks out on the industry’s harm to kids we risk being painted with sloppy, generalist brushstrokes as alarmist, over-protective ‘helicopter parents’ hovering around wee ones clucking about the sky falling like Chicken Little.

That’s a false brand that doesn’t remotely fit ANY of our team. The top level creatives and technologists coming into our consortium have disdain for the industry’s subculture of reckless negativity and incivility.

Many want to ‘do good’ and do good work…

Most agree the crass messaging is fueled by newbies eager to flame, maim, shock and titillate using pop media as a personal cultural canvas and Clio-award stage.

Yoo-hoo? Industry advisors? Where are you? We could use your pipes about now!

Apologies for another poultry parable, but sometimes I feel like the Little Red Hen…”who will help me launch this movement?” “Not I said the turkey, not I said the duck…”

Maybe I need to recruit less seasoned talent with hands-on zeal for making a difference?

How hard is it to embrace Dove’s positive campaign? Dove offers a poignant, pre-emptive strike to counter some of the societal damage to youth over the years…Yet industry corridors wage water cooler wars on its worthiness with some calling it “overblown B.S.”

There’s irony that the guy that keeps piping up on this at AdFreak uses the name of industry great David Ogilvy who died in 1999.

Ogilvy brought the Dove account to his agency in the 1950s and would no doubt be greatly saddened by the less than genteel spewing of this imposter using his name, since he believed in”professionalism combined with civility.” He’d also roll over in his grave at the entire state of advertising’s mean-spirited drek being passed off as edgy and exciting over the past few years.

Dove’s ongoing triumphs could single-handedly begin to pull media & marketing’s reputation out of the trash…

But not as long as insiders are mired in belittling and bashing this positive effort.

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”



  1. Hello Amy,
    I am brand new to blogging & just ran into your site via Agency Net.
    Your topics are priceless. It’s great that you are influencing
    tweens & others on study knowhow and finding out. More & more
    kids can be influenced to understand what the definition of
    personality is and learn to go with that connecting to the
    spirit rather than just another “model body” and ethics in a culture.
    Kathy Smith

  2. Thanks, Kathy, I’m new to blogging too so appreciate you taking the time to feedback! Gives me encouragement, for we’re still in ‘beta blog’ mode so haven’t made use of tags & trackbacks yet. I’ve just wanted to seed it for content & give people resources so they can see the kinds of topics we’ll be covering.

    For blogging, check out, and these tips on Britt’s blog. She writes “Have Fun,Do Good”—here’s her link:

    Best, Amy

  3. Well, maybe I qualify for one of those “less seasoned talents” when it comes to backing your thoughts, whole-heartedly!!!–Came upon your blog,quite by accident, & felt compelled to get in a “seasoned citizen’s” two-bits’ worth. You’ve hit the nail on the head, pardon the trite old
    saying.–How have we all become so cynical when something really quite admirable surfaces from the cesspools, anyway?–My mother used to emphasize to this ancient tomboy that “beauty is only skin deep” & I think I passed the same philosophy on to my only daughter.–She’s actually a beauty (but doesn’t know it!)& is raising another semi-tomboy (also unaware)& I’m fast becoming a doddering commercial for no-frills DOVE (my dermatologist thinks it might even be kind to MY wrinkles!)–When “natural” can whip these tweaked-up little twits & their plastic clone-like “make-overs”, I get thrilled to the core!–Sorry to be so wordy. It comes with age. Keep up your crusades.

  4. With Britney Spears, plastered every where kids are today, how could Dove’s commercials be anything but joyous. If they work for one child’s self improved image it’s worth it. Giving them something positive to hold their heads up high for. Beauty begins by saying the words and teaching our children to believe from the inside out. It takes time and repetition. Lets hope Dove is not affected by the negative comments and instead, is realistic and hoping to save one depressed child at a time. Rebuilding their self esteem. Let’s not forget the prices Dove has as well, middle to low, which is better than spending 3 times the cost for a brand name, which is worse and does nothing to promote anything other then the kids looking beyond their ages which in my opinion is not healthy. Kids need to slow down, not look older; which in the past was referred to as slutty….

    Amy,thanks for the post, and I hope there are more moms and grandma’s that agree, saving our youth is our priority. Helping them like themselves is one step forward..with many more issues to consider for their healthy future.

    Dorothy from grammology
    Call your grandma…

  5. Good article, are you seling links from your website? I’m interested…

  6. Nope. I don’t sell squat. Not even advertising. We need to keep our opinions unencumbered and free from bias. We ARE seeking foundation sponsors in the health and wellness field however…In case you know of anyone. 😉

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