Past Campaigns – The Dove Self-Esteem Project


As we’re a new site but want to be an overall resource I felt it might be good to showcase some of what I feel are the best ethical marketing campaigns from the past, this one is one which was highlighted by the Chris Arnold in the interview we did with him :

The Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) was launched by Dove in 2004 when its Campaign for Real Beauty was in its infancy. The Campaign challenged the beauty status quo and offered a broader, more democratic view of beauty. It also inspired our brand vision of a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.

The Campaign for Real Beauty

The Campaign for Real Beauty was a worldwide marketing campaign launched by Unilever in 2004 that includes advertisements, video, workshops, sleepover events and the publication of a book and the production of a play. The aim of the campaign is to celebrate the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves. Dove’s partners in the effort include such marketing and communications agencies as Ogilvy & Mather, Edelman Public Relations, and Harbinger Communications (in Canada) along with other specialised consultants. Part of the overall project was the “Evolution” campaign. The Campaign for Real Beauty was a huge success with Ad Age voting it the best campaign of the 21st Century in 2013.

Ad Age did a very nice interview with the creative minds behind the campaign:

Because many of the factors that form women’s views on beauty and how they relate to their self-esteem start from a young age – and with full commitment to work to achieve this vision – the DSEP was established to help the next generation grow up feeling confident about the way they look so they are never held back from being who they are or achieving what they want in life.

The Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP)

At the core of the project are Dove’s self-esteem education programmes that build young people’s body confidence and strengthen their sense of self-worth. In 2014, the Dove ‘Confident Me’ school workshops for self-esteem were rigorously tested in some of the largest independent academic trials of their kind.

The results were very impressive. Not only were the Dove workshops proved to significantly build body confidence but they also reduce the likelihood of girls disengaging socially and opting out of activities because of feeling bad about the way they look. With six in ten girls choosing not to participate in something because they don’t think they look good enough, these workshops can make a significant difference.

Dove states that their mission is to ensure the next generation grows up enjoying a positive relationship with the way they look – helping young people to raise their self-esteem and realise their full potential.

Dove work with leading experts in the area of body image to develop evidence based tools. To date they’ve reached over 20 million young people with self-esteem education so far and tare aiming to reach many millions more. The resources Dove use include tools for parents, mentors, teachers, and youth leaders which they have made free to download from their site and are proven to build positive body confidence.  

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Dove have partnered since 2013 to develop and deliver quality self-esteem educations part of this, the WAGGGS ‘Free Being Me’ badge – which launched in 2014 – has been picked up by girls in 112 countries, helping empower them to overcome appearance-related pressures and reach their full potential in life. The non-formal educational tool Free Being Me is developed for seven to 14 year olds contains fun, interactive, engaging activities to empower girls and build positive body confidence.   

The DSEP  also has an online hub for self-esteem where parents can read articles and learn about activities created by world-leading experts in body confidence, self-esteem and girls’ development. Another pioneering study – commissioned by Dove and conducted in 2014 by experts from the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England – found that girls with mothers who read the articles and advice on the hub had higher self-esteem and feel more positive than the girls with mothers who did not. The girls weren’t the only ones to benefit; the mothers themselves improved their own body image too.

Dove have also embraced Social Media such as pinterest, which is ideally suited as a way to provide free self-esteem exercises, activities, and workshop guides to inspire women to embrace the opportunity to help the girls in their lives reach their full potential. as a way to help where possible:

“The Dove Self-Esteem Project has long been delivering self-esteem education to young people to help them build positive self-esteem and reach their full potential,” said Jennifer Bremner, Director of Marketing, Dove. “Dove recognizes that women and girls spend a great deal of time on social media.  Now when girls need a self-esteem boost, the mothers or role models in their lives can rely upon practical and easy-to-use self-esteem inspiration right on their phones. Our new Dove Self-Esteem Pinterest page demonstrates the power and ease of mentorship, and we invite parents, teachers and any person with a girl in their life to join us in helping the next generation develop a positive relationship with beauty.”

Steve Miles, Unilever’s Global SVP for Dove, says: “Dove is truly a ‘brand with purpose’, as we use our scale and reach to inspire and empower millions of women globally to change the world for the better.”


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One Thought to “Past Campaigns – The Dove Self-Esteem Project”

  1. […] to think about that as there are so many. I love the Dove self esteem campaign, encouraging young women to not be influenced by the fashion industry in a bad […]

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