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Unilever Is Cool with People Mocking Latest Dove ‘Real Beauty’ Campaign

Every brand wants to start a conversation, right? Unilever’s Dove has unquestionably scored one of the biggest media wins in recent years with its extended “Real Beauty” campaign by Ogilvy.

The latest spot, titled “Patches”, went viral faster than any of its predecessors. In an interview earlier this month, a branding expert told us it was an example for other brands to mimic.

And yet, with success comes criticism. As the ad got bigger, nearly every blog weighed in to knock it. EDGE Collective founder Ryan Aynes told us that the amplification of negative sentiments on social media made the backlash look larger than it actually was, but plenty of people still disapprove.

This parody of the spot isn’t the funniest thing you’ll see this week, but it does summarize the complaints made against Dove:

As our headline reads, however, Unilever is totally cool with it.

A spokesperson told MarketingWeek:

“Our view is that parody, like imitation, is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Right, but that’s the same argument made about the many, many “First Kiss” parodies–most of which made quite clear that their makers didn’t care for the cloying original.

Of course, Dove is hardly the first brand to play on its audience’s supposed insecurities under the guise of empowerment. And we have a feeling that’s the last we’ll hear on the subject from Unilever, which is quite happy to earn all those millions of views.

But again, this issue comes back to the basic question: how much is a conversation worth if it inspires sharp criticism from a slew of very public voices?

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