It’s not often that a consumer-product ad campaign gets slammed in an op-ed piece in The New York Times. That’s what happened this week, though, to Dove’s “Real curves” campaign. Jessica Seigel, who teaches journalism at New York University and does commentaries for NPR, wrote that she loves the campaign’s images. But the realness of the imagery stands in stark contrast (in her view) to the unrealness of the sales pitch: “If only Dove would also come clean about its firming lotions. The truth is that anticellulite creams don’t work.” She later refers to such products as “bogus” and asserts that the category is rife with “pseudo-scientific babble.” (But don’t hold back—tell us what you really think, Ms. Seigel!) This is, of course, just what Dove deserves for introducing a tone of supposed realness into a market where everyone is accustomed to puffery. Ads for other products in this category don’t come in for op-ed condemnation because they don’t make an ostentatious claim to be presenting reality. When the imagery of such ads consists of fantastically svelte bodies, one takes it for granted that there’s an element of fantasy in the substantive claims for the product—which, in turn, means that nobody feels hoodwinked. Having broken the rules of the game, Dove is asking for whatever punishment op-editorialists care to dish out.
—Posted by Mark Dolliver