Abstract: This case is about Unilever’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” (CFRB) marketing campaign for its leading personal care brand ‘Dove’. CFRB was a multi-faceted campaign that sought to challenge the stereotypes set by the beauty industry. This campaign featured regular women (non-models) who were beautiful in their own way and did not fit in with the idealized images of models, super-models, and celebrities. Unilever developed the CFRB campaign based on a global study on the perceptions and attitudes of women with regard to their personal beauty and well-being.
This campaign was a huge success as it was appreciated by many consumers and resulted in increased sales of Dove products. It also generated plenty of buzz and wide media coverage for the Dove brand. However, critics felt that this campaign could prove counter-productive as marketing messages in the beauty industry were largely aspirational and Dove could be perceived as a brand for fat and ugly girls. Some critics also felt that CFRB was a contradictory as it strived to sell Dove Firming Range of products in the guise of debunking beauty stereotypes.
Issues:» Understand the factors that contributed to the success of Unilever’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” for Dove » Appreciate the importance of market research and application of consumer behavior insights in the development of a marketing strategy » Understand the issues and challenges faced in the implementation of a cause-related (Societal) marketing campaign Defying Beauty Stereotypes In June 2005, consumer products major Unilever launched an ad campaign in the US for its Dove Intensive Firming5 range (Firming range) of products.
This campaign, which featured regular women (non-models), was part of Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” (CFRB). According to the company, the main purpose of CFRB was to challenge the stereotypes set by the beauty industry over the years. The beauty industry, it was felt, had showcased an image of women, too perfect for most women to aspire for. The CFRB was launched as a global campaign by Unilever in September 2004 to promote its Dove range of personal care products. The Dove brand was one of Unilever’s leading personal care brands, with products like soap, body-wash, shampoo, tc. The stated aim of the campaign was to act as a catalyst to broaden the definition of beauty and encourage discussion about its aspects. Unilever’s consumer research studies had indicated that beauty advertising was out of sync with its consumers. Beauty advertisers bombarded consumers with idealized images of models, super-models and celebrities, which left the consumers feeling bad about their own body image and hurt their self-esteem. These insights prompted Unilever to launch a campaign in the early part of 2004 in Europe featuring non-models.
The ads were for its Dove Firming Lotion (Firming Lotion) and featured six women of various body types Defying Beauty Stereotypes Contd… The campaign raised a nationwide debate on beauty stereotypes in the countries it was launched. The growth in sales for the Dove brand was also phenomenal. It was reported that after the campaign, the sale of Firming Lotion in the UK rose by 700 percent. 6 In the first phase, CFRB was started with the intention of only positioning the Dove brand and featured no products.
It showed five images of women of different shapes, sizes and ages, who were each beautiful in their own way, but did not fit in with the conventional beauty stereotypes. Each of these ads was posted on billboards and the print media and the public were asked to make judgment about the looks of the women. For instance, an ad showing a woman with gray hair asked the public to choose between “Gray” and “Gorgeous? ” The public were invited to the website Campaignforrealbeauty. com (CFRB website) to participate in the poll and take part in discussions about what constitutes beauty.
Interactive billboards were also set up at Times Square in New York, USA, to increase participation. In addition to this, a Self-Esteem Fund was started for young girls to protect and bolster their self-esteem through various tools, programs and funds. The ads for the Firming range in the US were the second phase of the CFRB. The ads sparked off a debate in the media. Ogilvy & Mather’s7 (O) marketing director Philippe Harousseau (Harousseau) said. “Some people are surprised, even shocked. … We decided to bring this campaign to life because the survey told us women were ready for it. 8 Though many people felt that these ads were a step in the right direction, there were others who felt that the campaign was contradictory in nature. On the one hand, the campaign was asking women to celebrate who they really were, and on the other, the ads were aimed at selling a range of products that would help women reduce their cellulite (or body fat)… Background Note As of 2005, Dove was the world’s largest cleansing brand with annual sales of 2. 5 billion euros in more than 80 countries.
Dove’s product portfolio included soap bars, body washes, face care products, antiperspirant/deodorants, hair care products, and styling aids… Dove Listens to Women In early 2004, Dove conducted a global study on the perceptions and attitudes of women with regard to their personal beauty and well-being. The study was done in partnership with StrategyOne and in collaboration with Nancy Etcoff (Etcoff) and the Massachusetts General Hospital /Harvard University Program in Aesthetics and Well Being, and Susie Orbach (Orbach) of the London School of Economics.
The study surveyed around 3,200 women from 10 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, the UK, and the US), in the age group of 18 to 64… “Let’s Celebrate Curves” In April 2004, when Unilever initially launched its new Dove Firming Lotion in the UK, it decided to try out a new marketing approach. The ads named “Let’s celebrate curves,” featured six women of various body types in their underwear. The ad was photographed by Ian Rankin (Rankin), a leading fashion and celebrity photographer.
The advertising was designed by O&M and the PR was handled by Edelman. (Refer to Exhibit III for Dove’s ad for Firming Lotion)… Going Global In September 29, 2004, Dove formally launched the global campaign called “Campaign for Real Beauty” (Refer to Table I for Dove’s campaign manifesto). The ad campaign was designed by O&M and the PR was handled by Edelman. The integrated campaign strove to raise consciousness of the issues surrounding beauty and to challenge long-held stereotypes. According to the company, the campaign was “intended to make more women feel eautiful everyday -celebrating diversity and real women by challenging today’s stereotypical view of beauty. “… Dove Continues to Listen and Act In 2005, Dove commissioned another global study to understand the perceptions of women with regard to beauty. Around 3,300 women, between the ages of 15 and 64, were interviewed in Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the US. This study further reaffirmed the findings of the previous study conducted in 2004… Continuously Evolving the Campaign
Dove aired a commercial during the Super Bowl XL (Super Bowl) in February 5, 2006, for the DSEF. The 45-second spot showed images of small girls who were dissatisfied with their looks. For instance, a girl with freckles ‘Hates her freckles’, a girl with black hair ‘Wishes she were blonde’, a thin girl was ‘Afraid she’s fat? ‘ etc… A Step in the Right Direction? Many people, including experts, appreciated Dove’s efforts toward changing perceptions of beauty in advertising through the use of refreshing ads that made women feel good about themselves. Refer to Figure I for the results from a survey titled, “What do you think of ‘real women’ ad campaigns? “)… Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing? Some critics felt that Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign was contradictory to the very ideas espoused by it. This was because it aimed to convince women to buy Dove’s ‘Firming’ range, a product that was designed to reduce cellulite… A Revolutionary Campaign… Many marketing analysts felt that CFRB was a revolutionary campaign because the ads showed ordinary women who were confident and happy with themselves.
The ads had succeeded at grabbing the attention of consumers… … Or is it A Risky Proposition for the Brand? Marketing messages in the beauty industry are largely “aspirational”. It is also common marketing knowledge that people are attracted to the attractive images shown in these ads and make an unconscious connection between the model’s appearance and the products. Some experts felt that Dove’s campaigns had a significant marketing risk as it had to convince women that they need Dove products to become even better… The Company’s View
Dove’s marketing team dismissed some of these criticisms, especially the one that the campaign was contradictory by nature. Boyda said, “We are telling them we want them to take care of themselves, take care of their beauty. That is very different from sending them the message to look like something they’re not. ” Outlook Unilever contended that the “real beauty” campaign was much more than pure product marketing. It strove to challenge stereotypes set by the beauty industry and help women feel more positive about themselves. The company said that the DSEF was a part of its long-term growth strategy for the brand…