Years before the so-called "somber bowl" of 2015, back when Super Bowl advertising was still better known for sometimes-crass humor than heart, Unilever's Dove brand made a big-game debut that broke the mold.
In a spot by Ogilvy & Mather that escalated Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty," one dark-haired girl wishes she was blonde, another girl thinks she is ugly and a red-haired girl hates her freckles. Their doubts, set to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” as sung by the Girl Scouts Chorus of Nassau County, N.Y., are meant to set up the ad's message, that real beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colors.
The campaign began with a global survey in 2004 that found, among other things, that only 23% of women felt they were responsible for influencing their own definition of beauty.
Ad Age in 2015 declared Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" the best ad campaign of the century thus far, noting that:
Last century, Listerine made it on to the list of Advertising Age’s “Top 100 Ad Campaigns of the 20th Century” with its “Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride” campaign, an approach tailored and imitated often throughout the century to feed on women’s insecurities and remind them they needed to improve their attractiveness. Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” took the polar opposite approach, asking women to look at what attributes already made them beautiful.
Ten years after that 2004 survey found 24% of women felt influential in the definition of beauty, new Dove research found nearly three times as many women felt that way, Unilever marketing director Jennifer Bremmer told Ad Age.
Dove didn't return to the Super Bowl until 2010, when it was time to sell America on the men's extension of the brand ("Manthem").
AGENCY: Ogilvy & Mather
QUARTER AIRED: Q2