Dove’s Carbon Paper Ad Shows that “Words Mark Children Forever”

Dove has unveiled a new installment in its international campaign aimed to build confidence in women and girls. The Dove Self Esteem Project, which has been rolling out across the globe for several years, has recently arrived in Portugal with a printed experimental ad “The Carbon Paper Ad” that appeared in a specialized parenting magazine. With the simple “carbon paper press” technique, the brand aimed to raise awareness of how adults’ words and behavior can impact the self-esteem of the kids.

The readers of the magazine were asked to recollect and write down the most offensive things they heard about themselves when were little. They could write down their memories right on the magazine’s page with a hidden piece of the carbon paper underneath, so the words immediately appeared on the next page that featured a sad little child along with the message “Words Mark Children Forever.”

This experimental ad aimed to show that children’s negative emotional experience sticks to us forever, resulting in a loss of self-confidence in an adult life. According to the research conducted by Dove for this campaign, 6 out of 10 girls stop doing things they love just because they don’t feel comfortable with how they look.

The project’s idea resonated with the audience greatly. The Carbon Paper Ad helped increase Dove’s website visits by 19%, and schools across Portugal requested the issue to use it as part of their educational programs. With this initiative, developed in cooperation with Lisbon-based agency Torke+CC, Dove encourages adults to stop calling their kids “worthless,” “stupid,” “fat,” etc. because these words may root deep and cause a severe damage to their self-acceptance. The recent Dove Real Beauty Sketches demonstrated how the poor self-esteem makes women see a distorted picture of their own beauty.