Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Mass Communication and Media Arts
Since 2004, the Dove personal care product brand has received much praise for widening the definition and discussion of beauty through the use of nontraditional models in its Campaign for Real Beauty advertisements. This study examined the content of the Campaign for Real Beauty ads and the content of ads in magazines that ran Campaign for Real Beauty ads. This textual analysis of a series of five Campaign for Real Beauty billboards, commonly referred to as the Dove Vote Ads, sought to determine whether the message of the Dove Vote Ads was consistent with the Campaign for Real Beauty's stated mission of societal change and widening the societal definition of beauty. The content analysis portion of this study examined 785 female models in fashion magazine advertisements in a longitudinal analysis spanning the five years surrounding the introduction of the campaign. While the textual analysis questioned whether there were conflicting messages inherent in the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty advertisements, the content analysis sought to determine whether there was a measurable change in the appearance of stereotypical beauty ideals and gender role portrayals after the introduction of the advertising campaign. This was accomplished through an examination of the 785 female models that appeared in the September 2004 and 2008 issues of Cosmopolitan and Glamour, the highest circulation fashion magazines. This mixed-method study addressed two research questions and seven hypotheses. The manifest message of each advertisement, which encourages the audience to rethink standard notions of beauty, is contradicted by the latent themes. The five years between 2003 and 2008 saw a significant increase in diversity of the female models shown in advertisements. Additionally, women were shown as more powerful in 2008 using a variety of techniques. These shifts, if sustained over time, will serve as evidence of the social and cultural influence of advertising campaigns.
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