Dove’s anti-AI stance appeals beyond its target audience

Dove’s anti-AI stance appeals beyond its target audience

Dove has always maintained that beauty isn’t skin deep, but Asim Qureshi, director of digital services at AxiCom, says its recent anti-AI message has a positive digital resonance.

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of its iconic ‘Real Beauty’ platform, Dove launched a new campaign last week pledging not to use artificial intelligence (AI) to represent women in its advertising and communications.

At the heart of the campaign is a new ad, 'The Code', set to a dramatic version of “Pure Imagination,” which plays out as women submit prompts to AI image generators to see what beauty looks like, only to be greeted by unrealistic results. The video then shows Dove’s vision for what the technology could make, with more realistic takes of beauty that are diverse in style, ability, race and culture.

Over the target

Let’s get one thing straight… I was not the target audience for this campaign.

Or, I don't think I was.

I don’t Google "…show me the world’s most beautiful woman" (I don't, honest), and I sure haven't asked AI what this woman might look like (seriously, I haven't)

BUT - I do know AI is now impacting more or less every single industry and sector. And while I personally have mixed feelings about AI generated influencers, I do have a growing concern about the perceptions of beauty these things are proliferating.

I have a 5 year-old daughter. And I see every day how the most random stimuli influence her actions and perceptions. And I also know there is only so much I can do to control what she sees and hears or to protect her from derogatory portrayals of women.

So, in a world where beauty standards are often unrealistic and unattainable, Dove believes that AI could be one of the “biggest threats” to portraying real beauty, drawing a line between the emergent technology and the airbrushed imagery it has fought against since launching the Real Beauty platform two decades ago.

But this anti-AI stance isn't new. We've seen many brands leverage the hype of AI to differentiate itself over the course of the last few months. My most recent favourite being from Kraft and its Lunchables Dunkables (yeah, I know - random) ad that pits AI creativity against KI - kids imagination. A wonderful and entertaining watch - definitely check it out if you get a chance.

Accessible to all

Anyway, back to Dove. It has done a fantastic job of aligning itself to making beauty accessible to everyone.

The Real Beauty platform has been used regularly to challenge society, media and the beauty industry itself to widen its representation, and face-up to the harmful impact unrealistic beauty standards have on women and girls. From reverse selfies and photoshopping, to toxic beauty advice and todays threat of AI - it's pleasing to see a creative platform last the test of time and stay true to its original meaning.

At the heart of the latest edition to the Real Beauty platform is the 2024 The Real State of Beauty report, and a number of creative execution extensions, including a set of Real Beauty Prompt Guidelines that aim to help users of generative AI create more representative images, and a gaggle of celebrity ambassadors including Reba McEntire, Drew Barrymore, Beanie Feldstein and Marsai Martin all lending their esteemed voices to raise awareness.

All in all, the campaign - or the stance against AI - has secured significant coverage across a myriad of international, trade, lifestyle and broadcast media - with a large portion being positive in sentiment. Yes, there are few that call out the potential self-serving nature of the campaign, and want to see Dove do more, but isn't that always the case?

Anyway, it’s a thumbs up for ‘The Code’ from little old me - a person who doesn’t fit the target persona. Or do I? Spill over perhaps.

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