June 11, 2013 by Tamara Piety
Yet, the infamous “sketches” viral video that Dove (or I should say Unilever) circulated a couple of months back is in fact, in case anyone doubted it, an effort to sell more Dove products. Really. Duh, right?
Except what they would like the public to see it as is as public commentary on an issue of public concern, not a naked effort to sell soap by any means necessary. What they have determined through their research (at least if this recent effort is to be believed), is that many women have a more negative view of themselves than other people do. The piece seems designed to say, “Believe in your own beauty girl! Buck up! You are better looking than you think you are.”
Probably true. But there are as I said earlier two major problems with this message. One it reinforces the notion that beauty is the most important aspect of a woman. And Dove (Or Unilever) canNOT be taken seriously about wanting to do something about the insecurity it is addressing because that insecurity SELLS PRODUCT! The old “stoke women’s insecurities by telling them how important beauty is and then tell them that beauty is within reach if you buy this product” pitch is as old as the hills and this is just a variation on a theme.
Second, they want to reinforce this notion of a “brand relationship” to further the conceit of the corporate personality, the brand that you can have a “relationship with” that you can “talk to.” As one company executive put it in responding to the question about whether blowback in social media might hurt sales, “If you want to be a brand that has a point of view and strongly held purpose, you have to expect that not everyone will agree with you.” Indeed, but the only “point of view” that Dove has it that it would like bigger market share and it it could get that tomorrow with a campaign that offered a different point of view, it would do that. You can bet on that.
In the meantime, this info on the success of the spot is instructive.
“‘Sketches’ has had such support from the beginning, along with plenty of owned and earned media. When early response to ‘Sketches’ proved strong, Unilever moved within days from distributing it in four countries to 25 and boosted paid advertising behind it via YouTube, Facebook Twitter and paid search, said Fernando Machado, global VP of Dove.
A first-day appearance on “Today” and two stories in The Huffington Post on the same day helped fuel an explosion that saw “Sketches” generate 4.3 billion PR impressions in less than a month.
But does it sell soap? IRI data show Dove’s U.S. sales up 1% in the four weeks ended May 19, right after the April 14 “Sketches” release. That compares with a 3% rise to $1.5 billion for the full year.”