Last night I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Hemingway and listening to his riveting presentation about ‘The Dove Real Beauty Campaign, The Impact & The Aftermath’.
Firstly for those of you who don’t know, Mike Hemingway took over the worldwide Unilever Dove business in 2004, leading the team that created the famous Dove “Real Beauty” campaign. This now iconic work led to immediate sales increases, whilst pioneering new concepts in “brand equity innovation” and “new” mass media engagement and communication.
In Mike’s opinion mass market advertising is largely dead. It lacks integrity and authenticity which with the rise of social media is increasingly important to consumers. They have opinions, freely express them and expect their brands to engage honestly. A brand can’t merely espouse values anymore, it must be truly authentic.
In Mike Hemingway’s opinion, if businesses don’t have real emotion and integrity they don’t deserve to be in business or survive anymore.
Mike really emphasised Dove’s brand values and challenged more traditional thinking about brands, saying “a brand is an opinion about your category that the consumer must find both personal and important”. “A brand must express emotion and fall in love with its customer”, “treat them with respect, know them intimately, talk to them about what they want to talk about”.
Dove’s mission was to broaden the definition of beauty. In researching their market, Mike and his team discovered some disturbing statistics which has since fueled the foundations for all their brand building and engagement strategies.
Perhaps unsurprisingly women feel at their least beautiful during or after childbirth, menopause and puberty. However more worryingly the majority of female children, teenagers and women are unhappy with multiple aspects of their bodies all the time.
Every woman has a right to feel beautiful but the stereotypes the beauty industry has fed them for decades has made them feel otherwise in order to sell product. Over the decades, media has distorted and brain washed us to have a very narrow idea of how women should look, to be considered attractive or beautiful e.g. they have to be slim, have beautiful skin, style their hair and makeup a certain way etc.
• only 2% of women like their appearance
• 68% of women feel worse after reading Cosmo
• a child of 15 will on average see 500 images a day of stereo typical beauty
• 60% of young girls at home using Facebook are hiding because they feel inadequate
but most disturbing and worst of all,
• unhappiness with the body typically starts at the age of 3 !
With the western notion of beauty, little girls are now future targets before they are barely out of nappies. No wonder such a colossal percentage of young girls are growing up with eating disorders and massive self esteem issues.
Whether you are a consumer of Dove products or not, we are all aware of the incredibly powerful images, messages and emotions the brand has evoked. The women used in all the Dove campaigns were real women with real bodies, not size 0 models, and they all fitted within their healthy BMI indexes.
In engaging with its market Dove has redefined beauty and the beauty imagery used within the public domain. Dove didn’t start something, it gave a voice to a surge of feeling that was already there.
With raised awareness through a combination of print campaigns, videos and viral media, supported by unsolicited PR, Dove successfully created an international storm to government level, which still resonates with as much relevance today.
The longevity of the Dove brand campaigns is a testament to Mike and his teams success, truly experts in branding.
How does your brand really engage with its consumers ?
Does it stand for something that matters ?
Does it have an opinion ?
Does it express emotion ?
What opinion do your consumers have about your brand ?
Get in touch, we’d love to hear your thoughts . . .