Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cause marketing, because...

I like the Dove campaign, "Real Beauty," for multiple reasons. I like the message it's trying to send to females young and old about beauty, looks, and expectations. I like the means - the TV ads are eminently watchable, over and over again. I like the production values - the magazine ads are beautifully shot and lit. I like the models - they are real and they communicate Dove's message that beauty comes in many sizes, shapes and colors; they all look beautiful in these shots.

What I particularly like, however, is Dove's ingenuity. We all know that linking your brand to a cause can be a very effective and 'sticky' method of creating brand preference. It certainly helps your cause (pun intended) if there are sincere motives behind the effort, but sometimes those are difficult, if not impossible to gauge. Several brands spring to mind as having done an excellent job, both for the cause itself as well as for creating that indelible link in your mind. Revlon is to ?? as ?? is to AIDS Research. (answer: women's cancers, MAC Cosmetics - mind you, these are not the only correct answers - thank goodness!).

Dove has taken this one step further. They've created their very own campaign for their own cause. I'm not sure if the ad campaign begat the cause or vice versa, and I'm not sure it matters. The Dove campaign for real beauty - and the corrollary "self esteem fund" - fills a hole that you (or at least, I) didn't realize existed - and in such a way as to make you say "why hasn't there been such a campaign before?" For a 'beauty' company to tackle so directly the notion of female beauty in our society, for a consumer product goods company to attempt to lift the curtain on the actuality of how those images hocking those goods are created - this is big stuff.

Don't get me wrong - I can see where the whole thing can be considered somewhat (or very) self-serving, but that is, after all, the nature of campaigns. Nonetheless, I think there is merit and value in Dove’s Real Beauty campaign – and I am happy to see it on billboards and TV screens everywhere.

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