Authentic Brands Attract, And Deserve, Authentic Scrutiny

Last week, I posted some contrarian views on Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” idea. Writing in Forbes CMO Network, Will Burns leaps to the defense of Dove and smacks down the criticism of the video, calling the criticism “ugly” and “absurd.”

Burns is off the mark here with his characterizations. There’s nothing ugly or absurd about the reaction to Dove’s advertising idea. When people feel a personal, visceral reaction to an advertising idea and express that opinion, it’s terrific. Even if someone misinterprets an idea or projects their own feelings onto it, it’s still valid, as advertising is a subjective art. It means we as advertising people have touched a nerve, and hopefully it leads to productive discussion. There aren’t any mass boycotts, protests in the street, or violence related to this Dove campaign. That would be “ugly” and “absurd.”

Encouraging discussion, positive and negative, is something more brands should aspire to.

It’s no surprise that brands which have emphasized a belief system or aspirational messages — Dove, Nike, Apple, Tom’s Shoes, Chick-fil-A, Whole Foods, and many others — have found themselves the object of criticism. Any business practice or customer experience that seems to be contradictory to the ideals professed in the advertising or marketing gets a closer look.

As consumers, and as marketing people, we criticize because we love. We criticize because we care. We want brands and companies to live up to the values they preach.

It’s the subject of my new column on Talent Zoo.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.