Perspective on Dove’s #StopTheBeautyTest campaign


Dove, Hindustan Unilever’s skin and haircare company, launched an intriguing media campaign in February 2021. Dove launched a partnership with leading newspapers and matrimonial websites called #StopTheBeautyTest to “educate” and “nudge” advertisers to concentrate on topics other than looks and appearance.

This was also in line with Dove’s global initiative, which has been focused on #TheRealBeauty (of women). According to reports, the initiative was focused on a study of classified ads and posts on matrimonial websites.

The bigger problem, according to the study of over 2000 matrimonial advertisements, could be in the ‘self-declaration side of the argument. When we look at Brides Wanted and Grooms Wanted ads, we can see the trend.

The declaration of complexion moved from 19 % in 2003 to 20 % in 2008 in ‘Brides Wanted’ advertisements, which are released by boys’ parents, to 17 % in 2013, 12 % in 2018, and 7 % in 2021. Over 20 years, the %age of people who said they were attractive, tall, or both remained constant: 16 % in 2003, 16 % in 2008, 16 % in 2013, 15 % in 2018, and 14 % in 2021. Men declare themselves attractive, but they are unconcerned about their fairness.

Self-declaration levels have not changed much, according to a study of ‘Grooms Wanted’ advertising posted by girls’ parents. Beautiful looks stayed around 13 % for many years before seeing a leap to 22 % in 2021. Complexion [fairness] declaration moved from 24 % in 2003 to 22 % in 2008 to 18 % in 2013 to 16 % in 2018 to 23 % in 2021; beautiful looks remained around 13 % for many years before showing a jump to 22 % in 2021. Girls continued to declare themselves to be “fair and lovely.”

Society, its beliefs, and history are mirrored in matrimonial advertising. Education specifications have dramatically increased, according to the findings. Both brides (wanted) and grooms (wanted) have mentioned professions more frequently (wanted). One nagging concern is that Grooms Wanted advertisements have continued to refer to girls as “fair and lovely.” This reveals a lack of trust among girls and their parents in their ability to move away from cliched descriptors.

Dove should spend time educating ‘Brides Wanted’ advertisers to stop defining looks in their advertisements, and ‘Grooms Wanted’ advertisers to stop labeling girls as fair, pretty, and slender, according to the most popular submission. Dove could offer extra exposure to forward-thinking ads by tagging them.

They should also try encouraging young girls to be proud of their accomplishments and skills, concentrating on self-confidence rather than being judged by their honesty and appearance. If Dove can achieve this in India, it will distinguish the brand and would also provide a significant boost to the development of the ‘atmanirbhar’ emotion among Indian girls.

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