This commercial, Little Girls, was released by Dove during the 2006 SuperBowl. The purpose of the advertisement was to promote Dove’s Self Esteem Fund, which is linked to Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty and was “created to act as an agent of change to inspire and educate girls and women about a wider definition of beauty”. Set to Cyndi Lauper singing True Colors, the commercial plays through with glimpses of different young girls with body language that speaks to them as being somewhat insecure or self-conscious and accompanying text. For example, there is a young girl with red hair and freckles, and the caption, “hates her freckles,” moves slowly across the screen. The commercial continues in this manner until the screen turns white and says, “Let’s tell her she’s wrong” with the Dove trademark. The commercial comes to an end with the video montage of smiling girls and phrases like “let’s tell her to be real … and brave … and true … and she’ll be beautiful”. The final shot is a white screen with “let’s make peace with beauty” and then it fades into “The Dove Self-Esteem Fund” with the Dove trademark.

According to Social Communication in Advertising by authors William Leiss, Stephen Kline, Sut Jhally and Jacqueline Botterill, “semiotics can enhance understanding of how meaning is constructed within an advertisement” (164). The text also states that ads work with the concept of the sign, which can be further broken down into two components, “the signifier” and “the signified” (164). Signifiers in this ad are the young girls, their facial expressions and body language, the background music, as well as the captions of text. The Self Esteem Fund is for women and girls, but Dove specifically placed children in this commercial. Children tend to be linked to heart-warming emotions, innocence and the future. This Dove ad is using the young girls to signify that no one deserves to feel unbeautiful and the cycle of poor self esteem starts with the youth. The girls’ facial expressions and body language that go from sad and insecure, to happy and confident, signify the positive outcome of Dove’s Self Esteem Fund. The message is that through Dove’s commitment to education about a “wider definition of beauty,” someone’s life can be changed in a very powerful way. If the young girls signify the future, there is an underlying message that the cycle mentioned above is due to societal pressures and Dove is committed to breaking the cycle today with the future leaders of the world.

The text helps signify the importance of diversity. The girls showcased in this commercial are all visually diverse in terms of ethnicity, size, age, etc., but the text helps attach meaning to the images. I felt sad when I saw the African American girl slouched and looking down, with the caption “dreams of blue eyes,” or the other little girl with the caption “wants to look like Barbie”. This commercial hits the emotional hotspots and is trying to attach the meaning that one should embrace their culture, heritage, size, hair color, etc., and that being different is beautiful.

Dove is accomplishing several goals in relation to brand and product messaging in association with this commercial. The overall message of this ad is very positive in nature: everyone is beautiful when they embrace and are true to themselves. The empowering message is specifically for Dove’s Self-Esteem Fund, but the commercial still associates the Dove products with the message. Dove clearly wants to send the message that they are dedicated to social good. A portion of the proceeds go to these programs, like the Self-Esteem Fund and they want you to think about that when you’re picking out which body wash to buy.

I would say that the advertisement, aimed at women, goes against social norms and values. Society is constantly finding ways to make us feel inadequate. Through commercials, for example, we need to buy a specific product because it will make us better in some way. Magazines are airbrushing models to make them appear thinner and more beautiful by eliminating nearly every flaw, which only further sends us the message that we are not good enough as we are and should aspire to be more like the digitally altered model. Dove is promoting the opposite, positive self-esteem. Through brand positioning, Dove products can then be associated with enhancing one’s beauty, rather than needing a product to make you beautiful.

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