Dove: Redefining Male Beauty

By Sharon Haywood

Is male beauty found in ripped abs and bulging biceps? Is a man deemed attractive by the car he drives? Or by how much money he earns? If you look at commercials geared toward men as an indicator, you would have to deduce that square jawlines, snazzy sport cars, and a thick wallet equate with masculine attractiveness. But one commercial that aired for the first time during Super Bowl XLIV presented a refreshing alternative.

Dove’s marketing team, Unilever didn’t use a buff model to promote its new skin care line, Men+Care. Instead, the spot (dubbed The Journey to Comfort), features a man that some male consumers can identify with: A thirty-something family guy who has successfully navigated gender-specific milestones to arrive at ‘being comfortable in his own skin.” According to Marketing Week online, Dove’s Men+Care’s brand manager, Paul Connell states:

Dove is proud of its pioneering approach to women and with this new campaign for Dove Men+Care we now have a fresh approach to men as well. We’re taking a light hearted approach and acknowledging the life events that help men become comfortable with who they are, without a cheesy grooming stereotype in sight.

Dove certainly has much to be proud of. Its Campaign for Real Beauty for women continues to be celebrated for stomping all over stereotypes by using women of various sizes, shapes, ages, and races in its ads. As far as the company’s advertising efforts for the men’s line goes, it’s off to a good start. But it could be better. According to Unilever’s own research, “three quarters of men feel misrepresented by the way men are represented in ads.” The research involved over 7,000 men between the ages of 30 and 55 from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. One can’t help but question why Dove did not include men of various races and ages in its debut commercial. As well, it’s probably safe to assume that lanky, pudgy, slight, and paunchy men constituted a good number of those polled by Unilever. But the ad didn’t include these types of men either.

Representatives at Dove and Unilever are hoping their current ad campaign will generate conversation about what truly encompasses male beauty. The Journey to Comfort is a solid first step. But initiating an honest and engaging dialogue surrounding the breadth of male beauty requires Dove to take similar sorts of risks it did with the woman’s campaign. Here’s hoping that future commercials for Men+Care take it to the next level and represent all shades and shapes of men. Wrinkles, flab, and baldness included.

Watch the commercial and check more about Men+Care at Dove’s website.

Related content:

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Why Moms of Boys Need to Care About the Body Image of Girls

Ads Featuring “Average Joes” Just as Effective

Deprivation and Dehydration Standard for Male Models

Media Causing More Men to Pursue “Ideal” Body

Dove and Diversity: Not Just for Women

4 thoughts on “Dove: Redefining Male Beauty

  1. I have a hard time believing the sincerity of such campaigns launched by Unilever. On the one hand, the Dove campaigns for real beauty are fantastic, but when you consider that Unilever is also behind such products as Slim Fast and Fair & Lovely…it would appear that this all may just be a marketing ploy to attract a specific demographic of consumers.

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