The Body Shop’s Honest Ad Campaign

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Where do I start. Let’s begin in 1998, when Britain-based company, The Body Shop, found that its sales in the U.S. had been declining. Perhaps it was simply an attempt to rebrand the company as a friend of the “average” woman, that prompted the creation of Ruby, a print ad campaign using a pudgy plastic doll nicknamed Ruby.

According to co-owner Anita Roddick, “In 1998, The Body Shop debuted its self-esteem campaign, featuring the generously proportioned doll we dubbed “Ruby.” Her rubenesque figure graced windows in The Body Shop windows in the UK that year, along with our slogan, “There are 3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels and only 8 who do.” She went on to appear in stores in Australia, Asia, and the United States, where she captured the imaginations of consumers weary of the rail-thin heroin-chic of the beauty industry’s advertising messages.”


Ruby’s first print ad, above, used a plastic doll lounging naked on a green velvet couch. Ruby’s next ad has her posed as some women have suggested, “in a patriarchal pose,” and trying to understand The Body Shop’s need to have Ruby naked and posed in such a provocative manner.

The Body Shop later tried to engage older women with a print ad of Ruby in the future:


Numerous women have been chanting a call to bring Ruby back. But now that L’oreal owns the company (they paid $1.1 billion for it in 2006), I’m not sure they’ll willing to chance Ruby going viral.

The Body Shop is trying to “activate self-esteem” in women. Maybe next time, they could use a naked female brain instead.


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