Dove has used six happy women to advertise their new line of firming products. To appeal to the specific audience of middle-aged women, the product is seen to benefit a range of women (varied races, ages, heights, weights and body shapes). This provides social proof (Cialdini, 2001) by suggesting that these women are happy with the product so the target audience will be too. The market is saturated with many firming products and so consumers need help to decide. Often, we make decisions about our behaviour according to what others in that situation are doing. Thus, the greater number of people who think a product is good, the more an individual will see it that way (Cialdini, 2009).
Milgram et al (1969) found that simply getting confederates to stop and stare up at a building gathered crowds of people who did the same thing. This infuence of social proof is maximised when the models are similar to us. Observing the behaviour of those we perceive to be similar to us is when social proof operates most powerfully (Cialdini, 2009).
By emphasising product testing was on these ‘real’ women, the audience feels they can identify with them which increases the impact of social proof. Here, advertising using ‘real curves’ is a lot more effective than using a skinny model due to identification with the models.
The phrase ‘real curves’ plays on the hugely relevant issue of body insecurity. It empowers the audience by degrading stereotypical models to not being ‘real’ women. Thus the audience is more likely to like these six women and buy the product. This is the social influence of liking (Cialdini, 2001) whereby the more we like people the more likely we are to be influenced by them, in this case into buying Dove’s firming range. Due to association, liking the representatives of a company is enough for us to like the company and product. This is seen by the success of Tupperware Parties (Frenzen and Davis, 1990). The picture of the product range being in a corner and extremely small in comparison to the models ensures that the women are the main focus. Showing the women to be laughing also prevents the development of a negative association with the brand (Strick et al., 2012).
Although these are ‘real’ women, they are still models and thus physically attractive. Physical attraction plays a major part in not only liking but also influence. Physically attractive people are rated as having more desirable characteristics and success in life (Dion and Berscheid, 1972). The Halo Effect (Thorndike, 1920) plays a part as these attractive ‘real’ women are associated with other good qualities and, by association, so is the company.
Therefore, by using ‘real curves’ to advertise their product, Dove is enhancing the insecurities of their audience to ensure their models are liked more. This way the models’ positive qualities are associated with the brand and so simply liking the representatives will make their target audience more likely to buy the product.
Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Influence. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Cialdini, R. B. (2009). Influence: science and practice. Boston : Allyn and Bacon.
Dion, K. K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. What is beautiful is good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24, 285-2-90.
Frenzen, J. K., & Davis, H. L. (1990). Purchasing behaviour in embedded markets. Journal of Consumer Research, 17, 1-12.
Milgram, S., Bickman, L., & Berkowitz, L. (1969) Note on the drawing power of crowds of
different size. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 13, 79–82.
Strick, M., Holland, R. W., van Baaren, R. B., van Knippenberg, A. (2012). Those who laugh are defenseless: how humour breaks resistance to influence. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 18, 213-223.
Thorndike, E. L. (1920). A constant error in psychological ratings. Journal of Applied Psychology, 4, 25.
Sanaa Kadir (Blog 2)
Sanaa Kadir (Blog 2)