The body beautiful

LK Bennett is the latest brand to jump on the ‘real women’ bandwagon, using non profession models in their latest marketing campaign.  Since Dove pioneered its “Campaign for Real Beauty”, a host of companies including Nike, Debenhams, Pretty Polly and Ultimo have followed suit, but do real women sell enough for this to become the norm?

When Dove launched its Campaign for Real Beauty ad campaign in 2004, sales of a beauty product shot up by 700%, suggesting that consumers would embrace a shift towards real women in advertising.  Nike’s ad campaign featuring real women body parts with strap lines including “My butt is big” was well received, as was Debenhams’ recent ban on airbrushing in their swimwear ads, but neither have reported any significant gains in revenue as a result.

According to a YouGov poll commissioned by Dove at the start of their campaign, 57% of women said seeing more models like themselves would make them feel more confident about their bodies.  I’m surprised then that more marketers, particularly in the beauty and fashion industries, aren’t moving towards this trend.  But until there is strong evidence to suggest that real women spur sales, the allure of beauty and glamour will continue to be advertisers’ greatest weapon.

It’s encouraging to hear that the government has plans to tackle the issue of airbrushing in advertising campaigns. It certainly is a step in the right direction but we still have a long way to go before advertisers will be convinced to put their brushes down.