Truth in advertising? Not so much.

As an advertiser, you have to comply with the FTC’s three primary guidelines:

  • Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
  • Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and
  • Advertisements cannot be unfair.

Most advertisers do, for the most part, run everything through legal and make sure their claims can be substantiated.  But what about a campaign like Dove’s Real Beauty that takes it to a higher level and makes it about a lot more than just the product itself?

When this campaign first broke, I applauded them for doing something different.  And for acknowledging that beauty doesn’t come in one shape or size, and is certainly not about perfection.  Their strategy totally worked on me – I never used that brand before the campaign, but I became a fan after and paid the premium for their products.  Not because I really think their products are any better, but because I so admired their approach.

There have been quite a few questions about the authenticity of this campaign over the years, but it was this recent post on BrandFreak that pushed me over the edge.  Specifically, this line – “…Craigslist casting call for participants for the next flight of Dove commercials. A few of the requirements: ‘beautiful arms and legs and face,’ ‘flawless skin, no tattoos or scars,’ ‘naturally fit, not too curvy, not too athletic.'”

Of course, Dove is denying this was endorsed by them.  Whether it was or was not, for me, it’s enough to call their authenticity into question.  It’s a shame, because I really wanted to believe them.

Moral of the story – be sure that you can pay off what you claim in your marketing efforts.  It takes a long time to build credibility and trust in a brand and only one incident to topple it.

Do you think this incident will damage Dove’s credibility?

To learn more on False Advertising, hear from IP attorney Jay Myers from Seyfarth Shaw on our YouTube channel.

— Ellen Repasky, SVP, Account Supervisor



1 Comment

Filed under advertising

One response to “Truth in advertising? Not so much.

  1. jimmygilmore

    As the father of two young daughters, I’m a huge fan of the Dove campaign and completely understand your reaction. The message is so positive that I hope it doesn’t get diluted by this controversy.

    As an ad creative, I can easily see this as a casting agent doing an open call without understanding the client’s business. Let’s hope that Dove is transparent about how this happened so can keep running a positive campaign instead of reverting to the same negative stuff that all the other “beauty” brands are doing.

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