Ad of the Day: Dove Does the Mannequin Challenge, but Turns It Upside Down

A move in the right direction?

For the latest installment of its iconic "Real Beauty" campaign, Dove tweaks the bizarrely popular Mannequin Challenge meme.

A group of diverse women invade a clothing boutique and turn the challenge upside down. True to the meme, they pose in a complex tableau. Still, it’s not really the humans who are asked to accomplish something. It's the fiberglass and plastic facsimiles:

"Dove always strives to reassure women that they needn't feel anxious about their beauty," Andre Laurentino, global ecd at Ogilvy & Mather London, which developed the campaign, tells Adweek. "When we saw everyone doing the Mannequin Challenge, we thought, 'Why haven't we ever seen a mannequin that looks like us?' This seemed like the perfect opportunity to connect Dove's point of view with a current conversation."

By keeping things simple and slightly askew, the video succeeds as an offbeat one-off entry in Dove's long-running campaign. It memorably illustrates that no single "norm" represents the human form, but never belabors that point.

"This is a lighthearted way of reminding us that there are many shapes, colors and sizes to real beauty," Laurentino says. "The messages which influence how we perceive our bodies are everywhere, whether we notice them or not. So, we decided to use the opportunity, join the phenomenon, and have fun making our own Mannequin Challenge video—with a slight spin on it."

Though this particular meme has been effectively employed in ads before, Dove's use of store mannequins seem especially apt given the campaign's themes. Here, the dummies playfully yet pointedly skewer the conformity of contemporary commerce and style. Their frozen limbs and blank features remind viewers that the very notion of "real beauty"—highly subjective and intensely personal in the extreme—will forever remain a moving target.

Also, from a production standpoint, those mannequins really know how to hit their marks. Though the team did face a few snags while filming at Whiteley's Shopping Centre in London.

"The hardest part? Not blinking," Laurentino recalls. "It took ages to get a shot where nobody blinked. And when we finally got one, someone walked past the store in the background right at the end. We were back to square one. But we got it eventually. The take we used is number 33."


Client: Dove

Agency: Ogilvy London

Unilever Global ECD: Andre Laurentino

Dove Global Creative Director: Gerald Lewis

Creative Team: Rachel Miles & Michael Tsim

Producer: Jo Charlesworth

Global Business Partner: Sam Pierce

Account Manager: Carmen Vicente Soto

The Smalls Production Co.:

Director: Tom Grost

Producer: Angelica Riccardi

Producer: Fred Bonham Carter

DoP: Simon Plunket

Dove Masterbrand Client:

Global Vice President, Dove Masterbrand: Sophie Galvani

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.