Dove takes ‘real beauty’ to China in controversial unborn girls campaign from Ogilvy Shanghai

A few years ago WPP-owned Ogilvy sprung a big surprise by hiring M&C Saatchi creative director Graham Fink, a veteran of the London agency scene (although he manages not to look like one), and transplanting him to China.

Have they (or him) gone mad, we all thought. Well the Finkmeister (left) seems to have made a big impact over there (Ogilvy won a Cannes Outdoor Grand Prix for Coca-Cola a couple of years ago with a poster that was handily situated outside an Ogilvy office) and the network as a whole broke all records for Lions at this year’s Cannes.

Now Ogilvy Shanghai has produced an interesting (and no doubt controversial spin) on its much-awarded Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign with these ads for China showing pregnant bellies painted with questions from unborn girls.

“If you knew I would grow to be a flat-nosed girl, will you still welcome me?” asks one. “If you knew I’d grow up to weigh 140 jin (that’s 154 lbs), would I still be your baby?” asks another. The third says “I’ll soon some to the world, but if I grow to only have an A bra cup, will you tease me?”

Girls in China are a serious issue of course; not always welcomed in a land with a billion mouths to feed. But it’s gradually becoming a consumer society (in the urban areas anyway) with a massive appetite for beautification. So it’s reasonable enough for Dove and owner Unilever to enter the debate.

As for Fink and co, they could be on to yet another award winner. I wonder if Graham thought back to one of the seminal ads around when he was starting his career, penned by Charles Saatchi no less. Nothing wrong in that either; great ideas deserve a new outing from time to time.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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