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Dove : Toxic Influence / Dove Self-Esteem Project (2022) 3:48 (USA)

Dove has come up with a new experiment, and as an experiment I decided to watch this with my teenage daughter, to see how she reacted to the ad. The ad is targeted at me. 

As the ad begins to play, she flopped over in a dramatic Raggedy-Anne doll pile on the bed and moaned "ugh, this ad sucks already", as the intro was way too long for her delicate teenage sensibilities.
I shushed her but agree, we really don't need fifty seconds of intro before the setup is explained.
Interestingly, the explanation reads "Most parents underestimate how harmful toxic beauty advice can be on social media", but the only parents in this experiment are mothers. So, while the copy may include the father, the ad felt targeted very specifically to mothers. 

As the teenagers scroll, and I know that the "deepfake" switch is coming I watch my daughter to observe her reaction to it. As soon as the deep-faked mothers appear with toxic advice, my daughter yells out "So dumb! You would never say that to me, and we all know that is dumb advice." 
I agree but point out that social media says it to her, and she responds; "I am not an idiot, I would not file my teeth down, I would not follow some toxic advice of only drinking water because you tell me that I'm beautiful and make me another bowl of delicious pasta." That's true, I do make delicious pasta.

I tell her that I feel the ad messaging seems misplaced to me. The experiment is 'shocking' mothers into seeing the horrors of social media, but not targeting Instagram, that app that literally grooms young girls. The blame for this, via deepfaking the mothers, seems to be placed on the mothers. She agrees.
But we didn't create the app, the influencers, the dopamine hits received when thousands of older men liked your photographs when you are a young teen. We're not all of society, we are just mothers doing the best we can, talking to our daughters, making pasta, and hoping that all of the wisdom we share with them on a daily basis stays with them. Even when their attention span is hijacked by smartphones and I'm off to work so I can earn more money for pasta. 

Since Instagram grooming is a well-known phenomenon, and victims are 84% girls, and Dove's whole spiel these past decades is all about protecting girls, I would much rather see them spending their money on supporting the feminist organizations that are lobbying for safeguarding laws that will protect kids on the internet rather than producing another case study stunt that feels like it's blaming mothers for not being with our children 24/7 monitoring their every move. 

That said, the deepfakery looked pretty cool.

Ad agency: Ogilvy

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Kissmekatey's picture

This feels like they just really wanted to use the deepfake technology, which is impressive, but it it's just shock value to the mothers who are there.

Sport's picture

Well, I didn't react the same way as you did at all. But I have grown quite tired of this version of the Dove campaign, where they sit down with women and show them something 'shocking'. It's played out and done.