Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?
Everywhere we look, women are bombarded with stereotyped images of unattainable physical perfection. The beauty industry has become a commercial juggernaut with huge influence over individuals and societies. Globalisation is changing traditional notions of beauty. Many societies are turning their backs on what has been valued for generations in favour of an “international” standard of beauty. This has meant that often, standardized campaigns have been created in the US or UK and run in foreign countries with only a few simple modifications such as a translated headline.
Whilst beauty can be defined as “something which is aesthetically pleasing”, an individual’s perception of beauty is influenced not only by the media, but also by the society which he or she lives in. Society’s perception of beauty varies from culture to culture. Therefore it is important for global brands to reflect the social norms and cultural values of a given society when taking their product abroad. In 2010, Procter and Gamble removed Max Factor cosmetics from the US Market as the make-up range failed to appeal to consumers in America.
As a way of challenging today’s stereotypical view of beauty, in 2004, Unilever’s Dove brand “campaign for real beauty” featured photos of everyday women. Dove’s decision to rebel against the norm in beauty advertising was based on findings of extensive research carried out by the brand. It was found that only 2% of women considered themselves beautiful. As a result, Dove’s advertising campaign promoted the images of a variety of women with diverse body shapes, sizes, races and ages. Adding to the challenge, the campaign was launched in 30 countries and received enormous attention worldwide.
What made the Dove campaign so successful?
If you visit Dove’s website, you will notice that it has been localised for specific markets. Not only has the content been translated, Dove has been posting up real, relevant and culturally based content for each market. The Dove website features many articles about self-esteem and issues affecting the beauty industry in the target market.
Unlike a lot of well-known cosmetic brands, Dove has tailored the content appropriately to each target market. It went beyond turning the site into a multilingual portal and it took more than just a change of “tone”. It spoke to women across borders, ethnicities and body shapes and told them a refreshing and valuable truth. You are beautiful. It didn’t just promote a product. It delivered a positive, resonant social message. That’s the power of transcreation.