David Blecken
Apr 9, 2018

Dove tries to fix Japan's low 'body esteem'

A variation on the 'Sketches' theme aims to raise spirits among the world's least self-confident schoolgirls.

Unilever’s Dove has extended its efforts to raise women’s self-esteem to Japan with a localised piece of work focusing on high school students.

The brand conducted a global study into beauty and confidence among girls and found that just 7% in Japan feel confident about their looks. The figure is the lowest in the world, and according to Dove, five out of 10 girls with ‘low body esteem’ tend to avoid social activities, while four in 10 are likely to skip meals and avoid seeing doctors when they need to.

Working with ADK, Dove sought to address the issue while promoting its brand as being supportive of girls in general. It set up a social experiment in a Tokyo high school that aimed to make female students aware of their beauty by seeing themselves from the perspective of their friends. Their positive reactions were then photographed and used as replacement images on their student ID cards.

A video of the ‘Real Beauty ID’ initiative in Japanese has so far drawn more than 2.8 million views. Dove says it will support “young people all over Japan to build self-esteem and body confidence”.

Campaign’s view: Dove remains consistent in tying its brand to improving the way women see themselves. Since ‘Sketches’, it hasn’t always hit the mark, but this is a good variation on its original theme. Dove’s intent is good, and its ongoing work exemplifies the value of standing for something as an FMCG brand: the product may be unremarkable, but the brand manages to distinguish itself by standing for something bigger than itself.

It’s not clear why people’s self-image is so low in Japan, but the finding suggests that other brands have an opportunity to support change too, as long as they find a unique angle and are genuine about it.

Campaign Japan

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