What other product areas might they consider extending into?

Assignment: 1Read the following Case Study and answer the questions that follow. All questions are compulsory.


Unilever launched the Dove brand in 1957 with a patented, mild cleansing bar of soap positioned as a beauty bar that contained one- fourth moisturizing cream to moisturize skin. Dove is now the world's number one cleansing brand competing against Olay, Nivea and Neutrogena and is Unilever's third biggest brand behind Knorr and Lipton.

The Dove brand portfolio consisted of a wide range of personal care products including beauty bars, body wash, face care and deodorant. But amidst this success Dove faced a strategic problem: although soap was only about half of their sales, customers viewed Dove as a soap brand. In the face of strong competition Dove needed to shift its brand asset to a beauty brand in order to accelerate sales of existing products and provide it with the scope to drive further brand extensions. But how could Dove be a distinctive voice in the Industry? How could they change their core message without losing their loyal customers and damaging the brand's credibility? How could they differentiate themselves when there were already hundreds of brands in the beauty market?

Most beauty brands promote an idea of beauty as flawless, physical perfection. Dove recognized that there was a disparity between what the beauty industry was saying to women and women's attitudes and therefore made the decision to explore this gap for opportunities. In 2004 Dove published a global study on women and beauty titled “The real truth about beauty: a global report”. This study of over 3000 women in 10 countries examined the effects of perceptions of beauty on women and young girl's lives. The results of the study showed how advertising was affecting young women's self- esteem, identified the pressure women feel the beauty industry places them under, as well as the need for a broader definition of what female beauty is. Dove management felt that an alignment between their brand promise and these important concerns could provide their brand with the type of dynamic it needed for its future development.

The first expression of Dove's new Real Women manifesto was the UK launch of Dove's Body Firming Lotion in 2004. This was presented with an advertising campaign with the theme, “Let's celebrate curves.” The idea behind the campaign was that women did not like the usual promises of the unnaturally thin, toned, youthful woman and found them patronizing. The message was that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and forms and used poster ads featuring a group of women, who were not models. Dove's target market was women in their 30s who were conscious of wanting a firmer and more toned body.

The campaign was a marketing risk in a society in which the pursuit of physical perfection was so strongly embedded. Companies have played with the idea of using 'real women' in ads for some time but had never really succeeded. Most recent was the Marks & Spencer 'I'm normal' campaign, which provoked a backlash. But Dove had a background in the use of real women in its advertising as they had historically used non- actor women in marketing communications talking about how the brand helped them. More subtle though, was the matching of the real women theme with the rise of reality entertainment. The use of ordinary people in celebrity roles elevates the ordinary woman, using Dove, as a symbol of beauty.

This new strategy incorporated some basic objectives. Dove hoped to raise awareness of issues of low self- esteem amongst women and girls, and advertise to women the need to change the way they view beauty and themselves in order to raise their self- esteem and reinforce their attractiveness despite the conditioning of conventional media.

The campaign had a moral purpose, but the real beauty ads still needed to sell to women the idea that they needed these products to become more beautiful. Their proposition to women was to question the images that were depicted by the beauty industry by showing that beauty comes in all shapes and that women, by seeking their own idea of beauty they can bring themselves closer to beauty rather than closer to the media- ideal of physical perfection. Essentially, they proposed to them that with Dove Firming Lotion, women can show off their curves. This strategy was not without risk.

The execution of the campaign consisted of broadcast, print and outdoor supported by a strong public relations campaign, which was essential for provoking the debate that surrounded the campaign and was an integral part of its success. It focused on Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands and France with marketing expenditure in the region of $ 20 million.

The success of the campaign was breathtaking and genuinely groundbreaking, generating unprecedented amounts of PR coverage for the company and its brand, and promoting awareness around the world about the need to re-examine how women's beauty is defined in media. It has helped position the Dove brand as one that challenges the current beauty ideal and replaces it with a more refreshing alternative. By associating the brand with normal women they positioned the brand perceptions of the Dove rand from an old – fashioned soap brand to a more energetic, beauty focused brand capturing the imagination and loyalty of women.

The campaign was enormously successful for Dove's sales and market share. The campaign enabled Dove to double sales of their Firming Lotion within a month of the campaign starting. Sales exceeded forecast by 110% in Western Europe and in the UK sales rose from 280,000 bottles in 2003 to 2.3 million bottles in the first half of 2004. It also increased its volume share by 80% and its value share by 13.5% across its six biggest European markets.

Encouraged by their success in Europe, a global campaign was developed to extend the concept to other markets and the resulting Campaign for Real Beauty was launched in September 2004. The intention of this campaign was to extend the concept beyond that of just a marketing strategy and to develop it into a global action plan or women's rebellion against the prevailing ideals of beauty. Dove wanted to continue to raise awareness of the issues surrounding beauty and stereotypes, but also make a  forum which could facilitate and encourage public participation in the debate surrounding the concept and definition of beauty.

Dove developed a website, ' www.campaignforrealbeauty.com' which was integral for campaign success and in 2005 the website was active in 16 European markets. On their website they have included details of their campaign, their products, real women's stories and images to pose beauty questions on which visitors can vote between possible responses. They have also included a copy of the Dove Global Study and details of the Dove Self Esteem Fund, a charitable trust with the objective of supporting Women's growth as individuals and to oppose the impossibly perfect media ideals that they are surrounded by. The website has also provided a forum and discussion room for customers to debate the issues that surround the campaign. This element of public debate has been essential for creating awareness of the brand and the campaign.


1.     Why was Dove's action so successful? Why did the use of 'Real Women” work for them when it had failed for others? How sustainable is this brand association for Dove?

2.     How should Dove's competitors respond to their action? Would it be easy for them to imitate the campaign for Real Beauty? If not, are there alternative themes which appeal to women which they could use to counter Dove?

3.     How useful is the repositioning of Dove for brand extensions? What other product areas might they consider extending into?

4.     Why did Dove launch of the campaign for Real Beauty website? What are the short term benefits of this website? What are the long term benefits?


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