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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dove - What Is Real Beauty?

Campaign for Real Beauty originally uploaded by thegloaming. Read the story at Remaining Relevant.

Note: This post and Shelly Lazarus On The Future of Advertising refer to embedded YouTube videos that can only be viewed from Flooring The Consumer.

Dove has created such a powerful buzz around the notion of real beauty that it inevitably comes up in discussions about integrated marketing and marketing to women. More specifically, it featured prominently in Bernice Kanner & Marketing To The Sexes and Anthony Cirone's comments and -more recently- in Shelly Lazarus On The Future of Advertising.

Dove began the "Campaign for Real Beauty" in 2004, first in the UK and then in the US. Rather than hire professional[ly] thin models, they worked with regular women in everyday sizes and shapes. Via the Dove Fund for Self-Esteem, they are looking to elevate the conversation [as suggested by Lazarus] to one that recognizes beauty within us all. Women's Wear Daily in a 10/8/04 article titled "Dove Ad Campaign Aims to Redefine Beauty" states "Dove... thinks 50 is fabulous... [and] is taking a bold step to challenge societal views on age, body shape and race..." Furthermore, "the beauty brand has provided a public forum for consumers to cast their votes [about beauty]." [This and other articles available on Campaign For Real Beauty.]

It's a fascinating discussion made that much more relevant by modern society's adoration of impossible youthful perfection. I'm so used to seeing unrealistic images of women, that I've trained myself to completely ignore them. However, now that I have a young daughter, I am concerned about protecting her from any negative images.

This 7/7/05 USA Today article titled Ad campaigns tell women to celebrate who they are by Theresa Howard explains that Dove and "retailer Bath & Body Works, in a deal with American Girl, are ditching the traditional "aspirational" marketing messages that tell women and girls that if they buy a particular health or beauty product, they can look like the supermodel in the ad.... [They] are promoting their products with a message of "real beauty" by encouraging women and girls to celebrate themselves as they are... [Dove is] recognizing that beauty comes in different sizes, shapes and ages..." Note the inspirational product names [e.g., Full of Hope Soap].

Taking the marketing message to a higher level is powerful. This 11/3/06 Advertising Age article titled Study: Kids Connect with Social-Conscious Marketers by Brooke Capps explains that Millennials [aka Gen Y] care about causes "and [are] more than willing to reward or punish a company based on its commitment to a cause." It can't, though, be just any cause. "It has to be something that's very ingrained in who your brand is; it has to be believable."

These comments match up with those from an early post Doing Good which details the results of the "Doing Well by Doing Good 2005 Study Results". For both Millennials and women it's important to not only be genuine, but also to let all consumers know about your commitment. Engage them, as Dove has.

The 10/30/06 Advertising Age issue has several articles relating to Dove and the 'evolution' video [viewable below]. A real beauty: Dove's viral makes big splash for no cash by Jack Neff discusses the sheer power of a strong viral message compared to a paid one. Per Dove, "the strong consumer insight behind "Campaign for Real Beauty" gave the effort "viral legs" and the particular message was "more powerful because it came from an objective source"..." Dove also believes strongly that "the emotional response the "Campaign For Real Beauty" has evoked from women has substantially strengthened brand loyalty."

And it has generated significant word-of-mouth endorsement as you can read from this post from In Women We Trust titled I passed The Dove Video. Did You?.

The other article, Tackling ugly truth, Dove effort evolves beautifully. New Spot Punctures Our Anorexic, Breast-implanted, Tricked-up Barbie Doll Fantasies, by Bob Garfield specifically reviews the 'evolution' video and mentions another video about young girls - equally powerful. "Here ... is a rare opportunity for a commercial advertiser to define an important debate worldwide and transcend the petty venality of commerce. The bonus is, if they stay with this message come what may, they'll also turn over lots and lots of whatever it is -apart from uncomfortable truth- they're selling."

Now, it's not just young kids that Dove is connecting with. It's not just normal, everyday women. It's ALL women, even those above the age of 40, 50, 60, 90, or 100+! That's right ALL WOMEN many of whom traditional advertisers normally disenfranchise. What a concept! This fascinating post from Media Blog titled Live Not Save from 11/27/06 makes wonderful points about the aging of the population. The focus is on Europe, but is equally relevant for North America: "This is the mega trend, companies must face and adapt to, as the power of people 60+ will increase and they will decide what's hot and what sells. They will decide which companies survive." Think: Boomers. And, it's a point that David Wolfe makes in his book and blog Ageless Marketing.

This is our consumer. Are we connecting with her?

In the 11/15/06 issue of Knowledge@Wharton article, we learn more about Unilever [Dove's parent company] in Unilever's Michael Polk: It's All about 'Dislocating Ideas'. Polk refers to significant trends affecting consumers that must be taken into account: "experimental society [enriching life]; individualism [solutions for me]; a need to belong [getting connected]; complexity [simplify my life]; anything goes; physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing; securing a better world [environmental] and trading up and down." The better you understand the consumer, the more potential for a powerful connection. "Marketers need to have crystal-clear consumer insight; concepts that change the frame of reference and expand category relevance; brands that take a point of view, and ideas that stretch the value proposition."

This last article from the 11/2/06 issue of The Dallas Morning News titled "Fighting beauty that's only screen deep; digital touch-ups adding pressure for perfection" by Macarena Hernandez puts into real terms [echoing Bob Garfield's comments] the strong cultural connection that Dove and its "Campaign for Real Beauty" makes.

And now, the video! According to Shelly Lazarus, the video you are about to see has generated 2.3million downloads in 10 days, lots of press, unforgettable impact. It has elevated the conversation to talk about beauty rather than a beauty product in a way that matters to our global culture! It is titled "evolution". It is powerfully universal. It gives me goosebumps each time I watch it. See for yourselves, and think of the women around you - particularly our young women [daughters, granddaughters, sisters, friends, ...]. Don't you want to change the world that they are growing up in? In so doing, you create a connection with your most important woman consumer AND all of her constituents!

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