Dove needs to re­fo­cus on hon­esty, not rely on ‘stunts’

Campaign UK - - NEWS - By Si­mon Gwynn and Gemma Charles

Dove is los­ing sight of its strengths fol­low­ing a string of at­ten­tion-seek­ing ads this year, in­dus­try lead­ers have warned.

Last week, the brand pulled an ad for Baby Dove that was widely crit­i­cised for seem­ing to val­i­date the views of peo­ple op­posed to breast­feed­ing in pub­lic. In May, Dove was ridiculed on so­cial me­dia for a range of bot­tles de­signed to rep­re­sent women’s body shapes. More­over, print ads in Jan­uary that mocked Don­ald Trump by fea­tur­ing “al­ter­na­tive facts” were at­tacked for not fit­ting with the brand’s iden­tity, de­spite win­ning praise for their hu­mour.

Daryl Field­ing, chief ex­ec­u­tive of The Mar­ket­ing Academy Foun­da­tion, said the ex­am­ples missed the mark be­cause they were “shal­low, ir­rel­e­vant to prod­uct or just not con­nected to the brand’s po­si­tion­ing of hon­esty”. Field­ing led the de­vel­op­ment of Dove’s “Cam­paign for real beauty” in 2004 while at Ogilvy & Mather.

The breast­feed­ing ad lacked a con­nec­tion with the prod­ucts de­spite the im­por­tance of the is­sue, she said, and raised a prob­lem with­out of­fer­ing a so­lu­tion. The “al­ter­na­tive facts” ads, mean­while, missed a “huge op­por­tu­nity” to ei­ther flag up the brand’s as­so­ci­a­tion with hon­esty or dis­cuss Trump’s at­ti­tude to women.

Dove is in dan­ger of be­ing a brand that “sim­ply wants to be heard”, Leo Ray­man, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Grey Lon­don, said. He ar­gued that Dove was try­ing to start a de­bate about breast­feed­ing for the sake of it, while the spe­cial bot­tles had the op­po­site ef­fect to the in­ten­tion: “If you truly are the cham­pion of di­ver­sity, you would un­der­stand that peo­ple prob­a­bly don’t want to be re­duced to six shapes.”

A Unilever spokes­woman said Dove was “proud of the strong and sus­tain­able brand eq­uity which we have built through our cam­paigns” and it would con­tinue to use “a wide va­ri­ety of cre­ative ex­e­cu­tions with the ob­jec­tive of sup­port­ing our con­sumers to feel con­fi­dent and em­pow­ered”.

Sean Kin­mont, found­ing part­ner and cre­ative di­rec­tor at 23red, de­fended the brand, say­ing that re­cent fail­ings came not from “mal­ice or cyn­i­cism but an at­tempt to be the good guy”. Dove now needs to tread care­fully to main­tain its “con­tract of trust”, he added.

Theo Iz­zard-brown, chief strat­egy of­fi­cer at Mccann Lon­don, sug­gested that Dove should pick a “fresh, cul­tur­ally

charged bat­tle­ground” in which to be a pow­er­ful voice.

How­ever, Emma Wor­rollo, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and founder of The Pineap­ple Lounge, which spe­cialises in fam­ily mar­ket­ing, said Dove had be­come a vic­tim of the pur­pose-driven mar­ket­ing that it pi­o­neered. Con­sumers have been “over­ex­posed to brands wad­ing in too deeply on so­cial and po­lit­i­cal is­sues”, she said.

Thir­teen years af­ter the launch of “Cam­paign for real beauty”, Dove should be for­given “a few mis­steps”, Mal­colm Poyn­ton, global chief cre­ative of­fi­cer at Cheil World­wide, said. But he urged the brand to “con­tinue its mis­sion on a mass, pop­ulist scale” rather than rely on stunts.

Dove pulled the ad last week

Print ads fea­tured ‘al­ter­na­tive facts’

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