Persuasion Notebook offers quick hits on the business of persuasion from The Globe and Mail’s marketing and advertising reporter, Susan Krashinsky. Read more on The Globe's marketing page and follow Susan on Twitter @Susinsky.
The new campaign from Unilever for its Dove brand – in which women were shown how bad they feel about their appearance through the use of a composite artist – has certainly fired up debate . Some have posted it on social media websites as an inspiring message to believe in one’s beauty; many others have objected to it as manipulative, condescending, or simply reinforcing old beauty stereotypes by tying women’s value to their looks.
And as always, there is the oft-repeated criticism of the irony that Unilever also owns the Axe line of men’s products. Their advertising carries a somewhat different message.
But until now, while Dove has a men’s line, there has been no similar ad spot taking on men’s self-image.
L.A.-based comedy group New Feelings Time has Unilever covered on that, with a snarky parody based on the question of what would happen if Dove held a similar experiment with male subjects.
In the video, the men overwhelmingly describe themselves with movie star good looks, while others’ perceptions are, well, not as flattering.
The parody itself could attract some criticism. Although men are not bombarded with beauty marketing the way women are, they do receive their fair share of advertising messages designed to foster insecurity and sell products to address it.
Some parts of the parody are spot on, however – the soft focus camera work, gentle piano music, and invented statistics listed in text under the video all capture the tone of the original spot.
Watch the original – Dove's 'Real Beauty Sketches' below