We all know that Dove’s extended “Real Beauty” campaign has encountered its share of controversy despite reviving the brand and boosting sales via scores of earned media placements in addition to the ads themselves.
Fast Company, for example, critiqued last April’s “Choose Beauty” spot, accusing Dove of reinforcing the very stereotypes it claims to transcend by tying women’s happiness to their perceived attractiveness and “implicitly [arguing] that physical beauty is paramount.”
Now the brand might be in a bit of hot water again. A colleague of ad industry vet “HighJive,” who writes the MultiCultClassics blog, provided him/her with a copy of a casting sheet for an upcoming Dove Men campaign from Los Angeles this week.
The language contained therein may be a bit problematic for some.
In order to continue its focus on keeping things “real,” Dove wants to cast actual families, meaning couples in a “real marriage with sons or daughters from the same union.” They can be “Caucasian, Hispanic [or] Ambiguous” as long as they’re “real nice people.”
A few qualifiers: Dove doesn’t want professional actors, models, union members, or anyone who doesn’t have “light color skin.”
Here’s an image of the sheet.
Dove has experienced this sort of controversy before with a 2011 “before and after” print ad that seemed to equate lighter skin with cleanliness. It was an unfortunate juxtaposition.
We don’t really believe that Unilever or any of its agencies had ill intentions in this case.
From here, it looks less like an ethical breach than a sad portrait of the reality of the business: union membership and an overly “ethnic” appearance will greatly reduce one’s likelihood of employment in ads as well as movies, TV shows, video games or anything else aimed at attracting the general public by being as bland as humanly possible.
For the record, UGC Group is a casting company and Ogilvy is Dove’s creative AOR.
(Hat tip to MultiCultClassics.)