Controversial Advertisements: Dove Soap Edition

It seems like an offensive advertisement is released every other day. This time, by none other than good ol’ Dove Soap.

Dove’s parent company, Unilever wisely has jumped onto the Mad Men bandwagon, and has plans for six commercials to be aired during the new season. Each of their products, which include Breyers, Hellmann’s, Klondike, Suave, and Vaseline, will have a Mad-Men-1960′s-ad-agency-themed commercial aired in the coming weeks.

Dove soap’s commercial aired during this weeks episode, and some people are none to pleased by what they saw. In the commercial (which you can view above), two male ad executives sit in their office, struggling to come up with ideas for a Dove soap ad campaign. An attractive secretary comes in with coffee and upon overhearing their discussion, says, “This may not be my place, but …” and proceeds …

… to tell them why she loves Dove soap over all other brands. The ad execs are so pleased with her pitch, that they decide to leave it at that and go play golf.

Now, many women are crying sexism and speaking out against the ad. Some, like blogger Ami Angelowicz,  are voicing concern that this ad is a step towards making sexism in the media acceptable again. Other’s are peeved, as the ad is far from Dove’s typically refreshing “love your body, every woman is beautiful” message.

I get the whole feeling a bit confused by Dove’s (or really, their parent company’s) strange shift in advertising strategy, but I honestly don’t find this ad sexist. If I had watched it before reading this article discussing it’s message, I wouldn’t have even blinked. So the woman’s the secretary. Fine. Sure, you could call it sexist that the two men are the ad executives and she’s the one who comes in saying it’s “not her place,” but it’s not like they look at her incredulously and go “HUH? YOU DARE SPEAK?!”  Say the ad execs were two women discussing a male centric product, and a male secretary came in with coffee. Would it be any different? I feel like it wouldn’t be, personally. Apparently there’s another Unilever advertisement for Clorox with a lipstick covered oxford shirt bearing the tag line “Clorox: saving ad guys for years,” which is a little more iffy, though not quite because it’s sexist, either.

I think it’s a smart move by Unilever to be using the Mad Men trend to their advantage. I doubt they have any intention of demeaning women by doing so… in fact, I’d even go as far as to say that they’re trying to blend in.



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7 thoughts on “Controversial Advertisements: Dove Soap Edition

  1. Things can be spinned every (and any) way possible. Someone -say, one of those “feminists-are-mean-and-they-all-want-to-push-men-down-cause-they’re-evil” peeps- could say that it “demeans” men because they are portrayed as oafs who can’t find the solution, while a woman just pops in and solves the problem without even working on it, just saying what pops out of her mind, and the guys accept it as holy word and then just go out to play like irresponsible, thoughtless kids.

  2. I didn’t much care for the commercial because it’s cheesy and annoying, but most commercials are. It’s certainly no worse than the windex and swiffer commercials in terms of sexism. At least the woman in this ad isn’t obsessed with her broom.

  3. Look at the costuming in this commercial. It’s just a spoof of the 60s business world, which was sexist. Does nobody get that it’s a parody…?

  4. Well it’s certainly not her place – she’s a secretary, they are executives. If I went into my University’s department and told them how I think lectures should be, I’d start as well with “this is not my place, but….”. It is true it is reintroducing sexism in the media, but you can’t imagine the 50s / 60s without sexism, that is what we have been sold. That and hippies with hairy armpits. Also, it is a parody, as Triple A says.

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