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Dove - Reframing the beauty debate in India

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Globally, Dove has strong credentials on Real Beauty and is strongly endorsed by consumers across its key image parameters. However, in India, Dove’s scores on imagery have eroded over time due to first, the dominance of functional creatives. And second, thematic communication being based on global insights that did not resonate with Indian women.   

In order to find a locally relevant context for beauty stereotyping Mindshare delved into popular culture influences. Of course, the usual suspects of cinema, fashion, and media turned up. But a search for a more disruptive and provocative influence pointed the agency in the direction of Nursery rhymes and fairy tales that establish beauty ideals at an early and impressionable age. From this discovery emerged the insight—A simple, innocent nursery rhyme can create an enduring stereotype. 

(The Rhyme selected:  

Chubby Cheeks, Dimple Chin, Rosy Lips, Teeth Within.  

Curly Hair, very fair, eyes are blue - lovely too. 

Teacher's pet, is that you? Yes, Yes, Yes.) 

This popular Indian rhyme clearly establishes the dominant stereotype that is then constantly reinforced through mainstream media. 


Having identified the consumer insight, Mindshare needed to place it in an environment that could create buzz and at the same time lead the audience to question the narrow beauty ideal.  

Analysis through its proprietary social media listening powerhouse showed that SPORTS was one pop culture context that had a conflicting relationship with beauty.  

Women in India and elsewhere in the world are often discouraged from making a career in sports as it is believed to lessen their physical attractiveness—athletic frames lose out the desire for feminine curves, broken teeth to a perfectly aligned set, tanned skin to fair, and glowing skin. Thus, sports became the strategic platform through which it decided to question the beauty ideal.  

With the world’s largest sporting event, the 2016 Olympics around the corner, this was the perfect platform to start a provocative conversation around questioning and changing beauty definitions.  

To bring its insight and context together, Mindshare created a powerful video that juxtaposed a rhythmic chanting of the rhyme against spunky visuals of female athletes. The video questioned the stereotype by replacing the “Yes” at the end of the rhyme by a fierce “NO”.  

The campaign hashtag—#changetherhyme—exhorted audiences to re-write definitions of beauty by penning alternative versions of the rhyme, and, thereby engaged consumers with the concept of beauty stereotypes and Dove’s point of view on “Real Beauty”. 


The agency chose digital as its primary medium to start the conversation as Dove’s primary target audience of Women, 15+, LSM 5+ is highly savvy and spend increasing amounts of time online.  

The timing of the release was crucial as the video was envisioned to capitalise on existing conversations around Olympics 2016. Hence, it kept a close eye on the performance of the Indian Contingent at the international sporting event. The moment it was waiting for arrived when Dipa Karmakar delivered an astounding performance at the Gymnastics qualifier, becoming the first Indian woman to compete in the Olympic Gymnastics Finals.  

As conversations around women athletes gained momentum, Dove released its video on the channel of creative partner, Culture Machine. Culture Machine’s YouTube channel BLUSH is known for presenting critical points of view from, by, and about women in India and constantly challenging conventions.  

The video was then extensively promoted on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter using a simple but stimulating question—“Did you think a simple nursery rhyme could create a beauty stereotype?” 

The immediate cultural relevance of the content and context resulted in a staggering 6.2 million views in just two weeks as well as extensive coverage and commendations by platforms like Scoop Whoop, Economic Times Brand Equity, Huffington Post, and Vagabomb 


#changetherhyme was well received by the audience confirming the belief in the power of an insight rooted in local culture. Within three days, both campaign hashtags #changetherhyme and #realbeauty had trended on Twitter and the video has notched up 6.01 million views on YouTube. Not only that, it even had celebrities like Renuka Shahane, known for their feminist views, pen alternative versions of the rhyme and engaging with the brand. 

In terms of marketing KPIs, the campaign delivered results never seen on any Dove Masterbrand campaign previously.  

1. 58% of consumers associated Dove with real beauty 

2. 400 BPS increase in “makes you feel self assured” 

3. 400 BPS increase in “Inspires women to feel more positive about the way they look”.

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Brand Owner:
Hindustan Unilever
August - August 2016
Media Channel:
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