For its latest campaign, Dove has teamed up with former gymnast Shawn Johnson to shed light on the sexism that female athletes are subjected to.

By highlighting how conversation is often centred around beauty and aesthetics rather than athleticism, it is aiming to change the narrative once and for all.

It's an innovative and worthwhile campaign. Let's take a closer look.

The concept

In an open letter, gold medallist Shawn Johnson explains how she received comments on her appearance from the very start of her career, resulting in the trivialisation of her athletic ability and an impairment of her own self-confidence.

I was being told by the media, and the world, that I was “too muscular,” that I had “too much bulk,” that I was “too short,” that I “looked too young.” People even said that I had “big ears!”

The name of this campaign, #MyBeautyMySay, highlights Dove’s belief that women should be able to define themselves however they choose.

Including the story of such a high-profile athlete, it has a more personal and authentic tone than previous campaigns. 

Last year, the ‘Choose Beautiful’ ad garnered criticism for perpetuating narrow-minded standards of beauty and patronising women in the process. 

#MyBeautyMySay appears to be a deliberate move away from this dangerously condescending tone – instead, concentrating on a specific and time-relevant topic as the Olympic Games approach

Ads and creative hub

Part of the campaign launching this July, digital billboards in the US and Canada will be set up to broadcast sexist remarks about female athletes that have been made in the media.  

As the comments appear, images of the women will start to disappear, highlighting how conversation about appearance obscures sporting achievements. 

The billboards also prompt audience participation, encouraging people to tweet the media outlets who have promoted sexist commentary.

In order to do so, Dove has set up a dedicated hub for the campaign, including the main advert alongside a selection of engaging visuals.

When a user clicks on a quote, they are able to automatically send Dove’s tweet to the person or company it came from.

This real-time consequence gives consumers an incentive, meaning they are more likely to get involved.

The site also showcases data to great effect.

Based on The Dove Global Beauty and Confidences Report, it uses in-depth research and persuasive stats to back up its message.

Storytelling and social commentary

Alongside the main ad, Dove has also released a series of #MyBeautyMySay videos.

Featuring girls like Jessica, who grew up being told that she'd never look good in fashionable clothes, each video tells a personal story. 

This type of content is not unusual from Dove.

During its ten-year long ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, it has used personal storytelling to highlight how society can negatively impact self-esteem.

However, the difference with #MyBeautyMySay is that instead of merely being a social commentary, it is aiming to drive change. 

By having the tangible goal of changing attitudes and actions within the sports and media industries, there is a chance that it could win over those alienated by previous campaigns. 

Unilever's SVP Marketing, Aline Santos will be speaking at the Festival of Marketing 2016, October 5-6.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 9 August, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (2)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Doesn't every celebrity, male and female, get rude comments about their appearance? Here's "Celebrities Read Mean Tweets":

almost 2 years ago

Owen Jones

Owen Jones, Manager - Digital Content Management at FidelityEnterprise

Good luck to Dove, good to see a brand persevere with a campaign, improve and innovate it whilst attempting to do some good for society.

almost 2 years ago

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