Dove and Real Beauty: Building a Brand with Purpose
Unilever subsidiary Dove soap became a "brand with a purpose" and created shared value when the company decided to launch a Campaign for Real Beauty to combat the artificial media-driven stereotype of female beauty that causes appearance anxiety in women and girls around the world. From as young as 6 years of age, girls develop concerns about their body image that affect their self-confidence, relationships, health and careers. Through research and evidence-based practices, Dove developed a global campaign including advertisements, school curricula, online resources, public events, policy advocacy, and training sessions that reached more than 35 million girls and women across 140 countries. Rigorous evaluations demonstrated positive impact in self-esteem and body image while driving a decade of consecutive sales growth for Dove, ultimately becoming Unilever's biggest brand. Yet the challenge of deciding how to allocate funds between advertising the product and conducting educational programs to deliver social impact remained. The company also faced criticism about other Unilever brands, such as Axe or Fair & Lovely, that contradicted the Dove campaign.