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Dove: Evolution of a Brand

Based on: March 25, 2008 Harvard Business School Case John Deighton Harvard Business School Publishing

Sara Deakin

Mktg. 762: Professor Belch April 27, 2011 1. Describe the Masterbrand strategy that was being used by Unilever. Why does the company want to reduce the number of brands? How does the new strategy allow Unilever to control the meaning of its brand? In February of 2000 Unilever, a packaged consumer goods manufacturer with $50 billion in revenues and hundreds of brands decided to switch their branding strategy. The top executives created the Path to Growth , a plan that would reduced Unilever s 1600 brands by 75%. Of the 400 remaining brands there were to be a handful of Masterbrands that would host a variety of products under its brand name umbrella. By adopting this Masterbrand strategy Unilever hoped to revise their previously scattered growth pattern, which spanned across every continent, and begin to centralize their efforts to create a unified global vision among their diverse geographic markets. This goal was to be achieved by cleaning-up their brand portfolio. Unilever thought by reducing the number of total brands in their portfolio they could trim the excess product categories that created effective management issues and focus their attention and resources on more profitable brands. This prioritization of certain brands gave Unilever the ability to build brand loyalty and thereby brand equity. Their thinking was that once the Masterbrands were solidified and the brand identity was established there would be a solid brand foundation on which to do line extensions. The brand equity could then be used throughout large-scale geographic markets creating economies of brand.

The Masterbrand strategy also provided Unilever control over the meaning of their brands through organizational structure and unified visions. The process of building a strong brand requires the company evaluate their current brand position and strategy. With so many brands, often even competing against each other, the fact was that Unilever s corporate image was and unclear and needed to be reorganized. Previously, Unilever individual brand managers controlled the whole marketing strategy for their geographic area including the positioning, communication tools, profitability targets, and day-to-day marketing decisions. The new Masterbrand strategy provided Unilever with more control over the brands identity through vertical management techniques. The top of the branding process was run by the brand development department, who created the overall vision, progression and the formal communication tools of the brand. The brand, equipped with a clear message and approach from brand development was then handed down to the brand building teams within Unilever s diverse geographic markets. These teams would have the opportunity to bring the brand to life in their individual marketplaces. Delegating advertising resources and P.R. decisions were left to brand building as long as they were congruent with vision and message set forth by brand development. The brand message congruency was monitored by the centralized managers within brand development. Unilever s new brand management configuration enacted control mechanisms to solidify the consistency in what brand stands for among consumers (Belch). 2. Discuss how Dove s market positioning has changed over the years. Evaluate the current positioning strategy for the brand.

In 1957 Dove entered the market with a bar of soap or, as they called it a beauty bar , and by 2000 the Masterbrand, Dove, had a whole product line that included deodorants, hair care products, facial-cleansers, body lotions and hair styling products. Originally, Dove s beauty bar was positioned as being different from normal bar soap in that it was onequarter cleansing cream. This functional image was legitimized by scientific research that claimed Dove was milder than soap-based bars. The various media advertisements portrayed Dove as a moisturizing skin cleanser that normal, everyday women and physicians recommended as a gentle and effective alternative to normal soap. Dove capitalized on this highly effective and recognizable brand strategy for nearly a half a century until the diversification of Dove s portfolio overtime, through the Masterbrand strategy, necessitated a positioning platform that could fit the entire product line. The distinct nature of the personal care category prompted Unilever to find a positioning platform that Dove could use no matter what the functional attributes of the products were. Armed with significant market research done within their global target, Dove embarked on changing the face of their brand. The research delved into the psyche of women, their target, and discovered that women were disheartened by the beauty industry s constant assault on their self-esteem. The research showed that the impossible beauty standard depicted in current marketing made women feel inferior and unattractive. Within this discovery lied the making of a new brand identity. So what did their consumers want? Not surprisingly, they wanted and needed to feel beautiful. Dove decided that a hearty self-esteem boost was just the answer. Unlike their competition that falsely promised unattainable beauty, Dove s Campaign for Real Beauty position was that their potential users were already beautiful. This position allowed

them to emotionally connect to their consumers thereby facilitating a positive customer-brand relationship . Dove understood that women liked to be complimented and validated in relationships, a role which they were willing to play. The use of ordinary women in their messaging to sell products to ordinary women was consistent and effective. Women s selfesteem issues were deep enough and complex enough that Dove could ride this positioning strategy comfortably for the foreseeable future. Despite the fact that through its history Dove s marketing has never really resorted to objectifying and taunting women with impossible beauty, their positioning shifted from focusing on superior product attributes to a larger and broader personality platform that seeks to challenge the definition of true beauty. 3. Evaluate the Campaign for Real Beauty from an integrated marketing communications perspective. Discuss how Unilever has developed an integrated campaign around the real beauty concept that utilizes the various IMC tools. The Campaign for Real Beauty is a textbook example of how an integrated marketing campaign can take a nearly obsolete brand to one of 10 brands with greatest percentage gain in brand health and business value in the past three years. The well thought-out flexible plan was implemented in such a way that they could take advantage of the necessary marketing tools as they presented themselves. Contrary to the huge traditional marketing launches that focused primarily on mass media, the Campaign for Real Beauty used interactive billboards to draw attention to the new face of real beauty. This calculated approach was not made because Unilever had a limited marketing budget, rather they wanted to tap into consumer sentiment and receive automatic reaction to the campaign. The voting process provided measurable real time feedback on whether the proposed campaign drew enough public

attention to move forward. The overwhelming interest in the Campaign for Real Beauty had legs and brought the Dove brand name back into the minds and conversations of consumers and brand analyst alike. Despite the occasional usage of traditional magazine and television advertising mediums, Unilever fully employed integrative marketing communication techniques to reach as many touch points as possible. The shifting of social norms, which Dove s marketing team claimed to be at the heart of the campaign, needed wide-spread, repetitive and consistent messaging in order to be successful. A television advertisement that addressed the selfesteem challenges of young girls aired during the 2006 Super Bowl. To some analysts the Super Bowl seemed to be a strange way to pinpoint their female target. However, if the intended social change necessitated a mass audience, what better way to do that then through an advertisement which could potentially reach 9 million touch points. Not only that but, Super Bowl ads lend themselves to a subsequent barrage of analysis by the media, which equated to invaluable P.R. The integration went far beyond what Dove s branding mangers executed at the corporate level and even further they expected at consumer level. Consumers, commentators, comedians, news anchors and even Oprah joined the conversation surrounding the self-esteem platform. Unilever wanted information to disseminate throughout internal and external audiences, a tactic at the heart of integrative marketing communications, and they were clearly successful. The social implications inherent in the real beauty message lent itself directly to various non-traditional marketing tools. Dove s brand development team created a solid message that worked on a global scale and provided a foundation that could be articulated and

integrated into local markets at the brand building level. Dove s real beauty platform had the mission to make more women realize their beauty in a celebratory, inclusive, and democratic way. The democratic nature was embodied in the unique integrative marketing tools that regional markets utilized. From self-esteem workshops, Girl Scout sponsorships, You Tube videos, to ad creation competitions, Unilever had a finger on the pulse of the general public and allowed them to shape the social dialogue. This emotional and often controversial dialogue pervaded all media outlets and allowed Dove s real beauty campaign to connect with a diverse and massive audience. 4. Do you view the Campaign for Real Beauty as movement in a positive direction with regard to the portrayal of women in advertising or more as a creative way to sell more Dove branded beauty products? Defend your position. Unilever s Campaign for Real Beauty was a calculated and deliberate not to mention creative way increase Dove s product sales. The successful Campaign for Real Beauty was the result of good market research. Unilever s shift to the Masterbrand strategy required that their brand s status be internally and externally evaluated in order to create a functional marketing plan for Dove. The external assessment, or market research, that they conducted unearthed trends within the psyche of women, their target audience. A deep level of understanding of where your target is at mentally and emotionally is a result that any good researcher hopes to achieve. Then it is the job of a good brand developer to take those findings and create a marketing strategy that reaches the target and resonates with their wants and needs. The target clearly needed a self-esteem boost so that is what Dove s campaign gave them. This profitable campaign just also happened to lend itself to broader positive social implications.

The positive social outcome, if there was one, was simply a by-product of a well executed and profitable marketing strategy that improved Dove s brand identity. Unilever s campaign motives were rooted in the overarching goals of every integrated marketing communications plan, to generate short-term financial returns and build a long term image .