This video by Stephen Colbert — called Buy and Cellulite, which aired a few weeks ago, (sorry about the link. Couldn’t get the video to embed) — takes a look at Dove’s newest ad campaign: Go Sleeveless.
“One of the secrets of sales is fulfilling the public’s need,” Colbert says on his show. “The other secret is inventing the public’s need.”
I mean, everyone wears deodorant. We all want to smell nice. Clean, fresh.
But making our armpits more attractive? I don’t know about you, but as a woman, I don’t think of my armpit as one of my more attractive qualities. Or even as a could-be sexy part of me. Hair, yes. Face, boobs, legs — we’ve heard it. But underarms?
Apparently Dove, and its parent company Unilever, think this is an invented need that will sell. But, considering the backlash, I’m not so sure.
“I thought,” Colbert says straight-faced, “we had reached the peak of making money off female insecurity.”
Far from it.
Dove’s next step in the Go Sleeveless campaign is to draw in “star status” in order to make girls and women aspire (perspire?) and buy the product. Jessica Szohr is a small-time celebrity best known for her annoying character on Gossip Girl, her brief relationship with co-star Ed Westwick, a part in the summer horror flick Piranha 3D, and a continually advertised fashionable life. Dove’s theory is that girls will see Szohr, design a sleeveless shirt (a tank top), win the challenge and go shopping with Szohr in New York City.
Star affiliation or promotion gives a product more legitimacy. And by using Szohr, Dove is clearly targeting a certain demographic: teenagers, girls who know who she is.
Dove is pairing this “beauty product” with stardom in an effort to make the deodorant more glamorous. It’s a pretty obvious gimmick, from my end, and I hope other people see it that way, too.