We all love a good beauty standard, designed to make us feel terrible about ourselves as it purports unrealistic beauty ideals and convinces us we are shaped like brick walls. Dove, a known player in the skincare and beauty industry, has long taken upon itself to stand up against such body ideals and celebrate natural beauty. In 2004 they launched their Real Beauty campaign, targeted to real women, starring real women. This made Dove an advertising darling in the beginning, however, in 2019 this position seemed threatened by none other than Dove itself. They’ve managed to do this with a 46-second video advert that Dove felt perfectly summarized years of brand identity and messaging. The ad displayed their limited edition “Real Beauty Bottles”. Dove reshaped their bottles to reflect the varied sizes of women. A great initiative if the bottles looked anything like women’s bodies. 

The ad

The ad begins with a simple tagline “Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes,” a man’s voice is heard calling for pretty people to be brought out, this was followed by a video of the different shaped Dove bottles being churned out on a conveyor belt. Upbeat music plays as all the bottles are displayed against a white backdrop.  

The backlash 

The campaign was met more with laughter than anger as most people could not fathom how they could do something so hilariously stupid, with some people convinced that it was an April Fool’s joke. People could not fathom why Dove, a champion of women’s natural beauty, would go on to create a whole line of bottles directed at the shape of women’s body. Nobody wants to be reminded of their body, women do not like to be categorized, it is alienating.  

Why did it fail?

Anyone who knows women knows that body wash is just that to women, body wash. Women are not looking to feel seen in the shape of a bottle. No one wants to go to the store to buy body wash that resembles their bodies. The shape of most of the bottles were impractical too. Consumer surveys reveal that shoppers base their decisions for soaps and body washes on several factors, top among them, scent, quality, and affordability. Packaging does indeed play a role in how a product may be perceived, but Dove has clearly missed the mark.


Bhattarai, A. (2017, May 9). Why ladies didn’t love Dove’s latest gender-empowering ad stunt. Retrieved from The Washington Post article.
Lowe, L. (2017, May 9). Dove’s new ‘body positive’ bottles spark controversy – and lots of jokes. Retrieved from Today’s article.