“Here it comes” alright. I smell another Cannes win here for the Dove team’s short film/viral video efforts. “Onslaught,” a Dove film, conveys the pulsating “in your face” rapid-fire bombardment of beauty cues and media sexualization sent every nanosecond to little kids.
Onslaught may do for girls what the “Evolution” spot did for women…deconstruct the mindset of body image and objectification. Reinforce the artificial ideals behind the superficial nip-n-tuck cues. Or it could just plain tick people off…Which, actually, is not a bad thing either, if it works to raise awareness. (Two Knives for example, has got a wicked sharp blade and cuts right through the muck in razor-smooth precision, I highly recommend you take a peek at this very worthy parental deconstruction)
The problem with being IN this business is you see TOO much…Truth be told, I actually had plans to save this piece for a bigger deconstruction with the Dove team, and wanted to ping the folks at Ogilvy in the U.K. for full feedback (Toronto? U.K.–Nicole? Care to comment, please?) I love the research/white paper on Dove’s global study, “Beyond stereotypes: rebuilding the foundation of beauty beliefs” here.
I guess I’m thinking if Dove can ask people to share their views, and even attempt to enrage the masses with some motivational “umpf,” by conveying a “Knock it off, people, look what we’re doin’ to the children!” mindset…then hey, so much the better…After all, that’s been my mantra for quite some time…
It gives us all a snapshot into the appearance-based fixations that are tearing apart kids’ sense of self-worth and turning them into media tartlets with sass and ‘tude via ‘age compression toy tactics’ and marketing ploys gone awry.
Not sure I can be fully objective, as I’ve always had a considerable amount of Dove love, and continue to tamp down my awareness and reporting of their parent company, Unilever’s holdings in Fair and Lovely bleaching agents to uphold a skin tone ideal. (ahem, hardly a “Campaign for Real Beauty”…)
Still, Dove’s execution is so dang good and their message is so “spot on” that I should probably save myself some film costs and cut a partnership deal to use this clip for our trailer showing the trickle down impact on K-5 playgrounds in our documentary, Body Blitz: Media Shaping Youth!
I guess it all boils down to a net gain issue…To gauge the impact, I did what I usually do…ran it past some kids themselves. Some said it was ‘weird,’ and acted ‘nonplussed’ (have you ever noticed how much tweens are vehement that marketing doesn’t impact them as they adjust their latest brandware, cell charms, and duds?) Some acted like it was ‘same ol’ same ol’ and ho-hum flatlined the response. Others squirmed a bit as if they could relate but didn’t want to ‘fess up.
Unlike the softness of Dove’s True Colors campaign, hinting at the insecurities being placed within children, the harsh MTV-style jackhammer approach over-shadowed any subtlety in the spot.
My own tween didn’t even notice the doe-eyed redhead’s transformation from smiling natural cutie to Jon Benet-pageant ‘tude parading across the street with ruby lips, curled locks and a scowl…
It took her an entire replay and a purposeful click of the pause button after the somber dissolve, “Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does” to even see it. Hmn…’de-sensitized’ perhaps?
Maybe she was still reeling from the imagery. I’d say I was, but that would be a bald-face lie.
I live, eat and breathe this stuff every day.
Question…Will this hit the viral video charts with the same “you’ve gotta see this” YouTube zeal as millions of other ‘forward to a friend’ Dove hits? Or have too many people peeked behind the curtain of Oz to gain a cynical bent?
What do you think? Has Dove jumped the shark? Is this hypocrisy or authenticity?
A social change model or crafty subliminal soap sales?
Genuine concern over children’s media messaging or brilliant branding?
Or is it all irrelevant if it makes an impact and it works?
In one sense, viewing this Dove spot as a simple, strident stance against sexploitation of kids and the over-shadowing of childhood, seems perfect, whether it’s boys’ body dysmorphia issues or girls’ inadequacy impairments with teen plastic surgery on the rise.
If it makes people ‘get it’ that our worth on the planet as human beings is being gauged by writhing body parts of pristine flesh, with ever-younger ‘ideals’ that border on pedophilia, bravo! But the minute I veer into unchartered waters of gimmickry and manipulation at my own expense I turn into a media curmudgeon, feeling like I’m being duped.
As many VC cohorts and wise supporters have cautioned me time and again, “You can’t become an ideologue, steadfast in your convictions without the sponsorship alliances and funding to roll out on a mass scale…Applaud the people doing good work, rail on the vapid values you despise, and stay true to yourself at all costs.”
Using those benchmarks, I’d have to say, yep, fine. Okay. You got me. Dove’s done it again.
Are you applauding? I am…
p.s. Feel free to sound off to the contrary…That’s what makes the blogosphere an intellectual haven of challenge…
Other Shaping Youth Dove Features