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Briliant it is.
But does make us behave like fools:
I need clever strategists to help me criticize Dove's campaign from consumer's point of view. Please comment on this one:

"The next Dove can easily be Coca Cola. Primary media channel: consumer consciousness. budget size = $0!"

posted on TrendsSpotting blog:

http://www.trendsspotting.com/blog/?p=232

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I've always thought the problem is Noam Chomsky's objection the myth of corporate citizens. They dont mean because they cant mean it. "They" are a payroll system, a supply chain, some buildings, a budgeting system... but they are not a fellow human being with a political agenda. There are senior people in that company who are accountable, for instance for illegal actions of the company. But they cannot be said to be 'against the objectification of women' like a real feminist campaigning organisation would be, because they arent. They are a soap giant. A sharper critical view would be actually to take this at face value as a statement of REAL company policy. The real company is Unilever. How do you square that with Axe/Lynx? A brand built solely upon the 'laddish' enjoyment of the objectification of women. There are lots of things that companies can do in the ethical and environmental space but professing to believe in something (unless they are truly a values led business first and foremost) probably isnt one of them. Having said which I do like the Evolution film, it's a smart piece of cultural education which happened to be paid for by Dove :J
I agree with every word you wrote!
The Dove "Real Women campaign" was not only a convention breaking campaign built on great insight, but was one of those interesting marketing moments when a single ad campaign idea, came to represent the brand and ultimately re-positioned it in a new and exciting territory - and the company reaped the rewards.

But the big question was where do they go from here?

Checkout the link….
http://interactivemarketingtrends.blogspot.com/2007/10/evolution-20...

As you'll see - another great insight -why is real beauty important - cos of our children!!!!

But hang on, whilst my desire to a more realistic sense of communication with individuals in the 21st centaury, helped to permit the objectification of 'real' women for corporate gain - now I am supposed to align my thoughts alongside my desires for our children not to be manipulated by 'fashion'.

Hummm.... now the halo is REALLY starting to slip and all I am seeing from Dove is the manipulation and pulling at heart strings in exactly the same way they manipulated us with images of 'size zero' esq. models all these years!

So when it all plays out, really this is no better at all!

Shame on you Dove!

And shame on us for not realising it sooner, guess I was distracted by 'Mickie' the guy in that Brill cream ad that I want to be like so much - better pass me a copy of the guardian & and herbal tea asap!
I agree. While the insights are strong, and there have been some very very good executions, there is nothing intrinsically different about the product from all the other "beautifiers" nor the underlying strategy from other beautifiers. They just try to lever against female insecurities through a facade of "compassion." Rather than the "Be hot," " make men drool" or a "be in power" approach traditionally taken in the category. If anything they are starting to self parodize. If you jump over to to the men's side, the recent Old Spice take on "get laid" is, I would argue, much smarter and truthful. They aren't coming across self righteous as Dove is but are equally trying to push against the greater category paradigm of brand = beauty = emotional benefit.
think the unilever issue (that they do axe) is the one they really have to monitor. i also remember having issues with its global application, and found the post i made back at fallon - http://fallontrendpoint.blogspot.com/2006/01/execution-real-beauty-...

little girl on vacation in buenos aires with her parents gets mixed message from dove (especially if she can translate for real beauty).
This is a knee jerk thought.. just wanted to toss something onto the pile.

We over analyze this. (As we are obliged to do) Are "consumers" really spending time thinking about who and what DOVE is? (OR AXE) Or are they simply assessing the messages...

Any message that MIGHT come our way... I agree with.. Am intrigued by.. Amused by.. Disgusted by.. whatever. It doesn't matter if the message come to me via TV, blog, or from a friend, reaction/attraction first, everything else later.. if at all.
Well, I am not a clever strategist, but I love to throw my ideas, so this is what I am doing now.

I would like to rewrite some of my lines from an old post of mine on Dove campaign (it wasn't totally advertising relevant so I think its better to write the relevant stuff):

“This campaign certainly moved away for the notion of ‘¼ moisturizer’ as the company struggled big time to convince the customers that moisturiser can work well with shampoo and deodorant too. Yes, I feel sorry for late David Ogilvy because he was really proud of the ‘¼ moisturizer’ proposition and it was one of the campaigns that made him an advertising icon."...."Again advertising bullshitting, don’t say ‘anti-age’, say ‘pro-age’ because aging is real. My question is: 'If aging is real, why not let the women enjoy the ‘real’ beauty’ that they are going to have with their age? A woman in 50s might not look beautiful to her husband but her son will certainly find her adorable."

My thoughts on advertising point of view:

- As I said earlier, it certainly did a good job on getting away from moisturizing formulation as that wasn't relevant some of their categories.

- It does have a great insight that at the end of the day, you want to be comfortable with yourself. Even women putting so much efforts for make up, would want to be without it when alone at home. Especially present day working women have more things to assert than just beautiful looks and busy lifestyle gives them less time to spend on make up. Fast food makes it harder to get rid of flab, thus this campaign does have a soothing and empathizing voice for a lot of women, especially its target audience i.e. educated, higher income, empowered and mature women.

- It is also in line with the core brand essence and target audience, as Dove had never been a loud and showy brand for beauty products, instead always communicated in a subtle, suave and refined manner to that appeals to its target audience.

From the criticism point of view, I guess there is an inherent paradox, as a company is talking about 'real beauty' and selling beauty products that are aimed to enhance your beauty. It will be more evident for the categories e.g. hair color protection shampoo!

Secondly, I do believe that the appeal for comfort level might work for its target audience, however, vanity is built in women gene and no matter what, most of them want to look more beautiful and get attention. So it depends on how much broad its appeal would be, but certainly it does a great job in differentiating the brand as hell lot of beauty products are talking about exaggerated beauty, and this simple message is going to stand away from the crowd.

So in summary, I am impressed by the campaign and the work of Ogilvy planning team in London. :)
Vanity is a equal opportunity appeal.. Advertisers (and the culture) just go about appealing to it differently..
Sorry, I mentioned core brand essense of Dove but didn't elaborate on it. Dove was never about superficial beauty but it always talked about beauty from within which gives confidence to women.
I read the following article on BusinessWeek today and its a critical review of the Dove Real Beauty campaign. It's a good read...
http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/nov2007/id20071112_700...
The initial ambition was simple: connect women with the brand through shared values. This is sound: a Roper study found that this is precisely what unites the world’s top brands with their franchises.

The approach was to stir up issue value that could then be used to position the brand as an attractive ally. This too is sound: creating “issue value” is becoming increasingly needed in order to stir an often indifferent or somnambulant public and galvanize them to participate.

It is the decision to orient issue value and the brand-consumer shared belief through a moralizing stance on beauty that is not sound.

Here's the evolution of Dove brand reinvigoration


Phase 1
Communications were created to spark a debate about beauty, raising consciousness about how narrow and stereotyped the existing definition is, while introducing a more realistic, healthier, and attainable alternative. It championed beauty on ordinary women’s terms. The campaign for real beauty was the brand’s rallying cry.

Visually, the campaign was iconic. Advertising in every channel showed what had previously been taboo: amply proportioned and even large women. They beamed how good they felt in their own skin. It was empowering. It was celebratory. It was inclusive.

Phase 2
It saw the viral spread of Evolution, proclaimed it’s “no wonder our perception of beauty is so distorted” by showing the excessive retouching that transforms a women into beauty industry advertising allure.

This effort represented a subtle but significant shift. In phase II the beauty industry is being singled out as ‘the enemy’, the force against which the brand and its consumer advocates should continue to rally. The emphasis of the brand however is not on the celebration of women’s beauty in all its wonderfully diverse sizes, colors and shapes. It is focused on fighting an opposition.

Phase 3
‘Onslaught’ has just been released, depicting a young girl being bombarded with beauty industry imagery. “Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does” extols the brand.

Of note is the strategic emphasis. While the opposition continues to be the beauty industry, the focus is again upon children, and Dove is appointing itself as a moral guardian. Or concerned on-looker at least.

There are three ironic elements to this:

1. Telling parents to talk to kids misses two important realities. 1) Kids are influenced by example, not what they’re told. 2) If mothers continue to be so focused on their outward appearance and gaining acceptance of others, worry about their weight ro what people think of them, have 'beauty treatments' like manicures and pedicures, etc. the lack of change in the image problmem of the younger generation will speak for itself. It’s the mother’s that have to change behavior, not preach.

2. Dove encourages parents to face off against the beauty industry, and while Dove’s campaigns continues to champion the rally, unhealthy female imagery and expectations are being simultaneously reinforced by the same company. The Axe/Lynx brands which targets male teenage with fantasy is also owned by Unilever. In an age of transparency, this is ill advised.

3. The celebration of the brand’s inclusive point-of-view about beauty has been pushed aside, at least for now. Granted, there are challenges in keeping a fickle, short-attention span society engaged once they’ve become comfortable with an idea – and the rise of the reality programming genre has certainly diminished the visual distinctiveness Dove’s ‘real beauty’ imagery.

The advice for Dove: lose the faux compassion and be authentic.
If you’re serious about change, then encourage parents themselves to change and be better role models. Inspire them to be a great example for their daughters. Then perhaps there’ll be sustainable change, not hollow brand gestures.

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