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Dove for Men Lacks "Real Beauty"

11/28/2013 05:22 EST | Updated 01/28/2014 05:59 EST

Dove was one of the pioneers in cause marketing when it committed the brand to a long-term, global campaign to promote women's self-esteem. As well as winning awards around the world, Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign drove product sales and created for the brand a dominant positioning within the women's beauty segment. The campaign shows that Dove has such a rock solid understanding of who it is that "Real Beauty" has become synonymous with the brand everywhere in the world.

All good so far.

Building on the strength of its women's products, Dove decided to extend its brand equity into the men's global market. This is where everything starts to go south. A search of Dove men's advertising on YouTube shows:

  • In many global markets, Dove does a direct rip-off of the Old Spice slapstick, ironic humour that mocks men
  • In Canada, the advertising takes a pragmatic, features and benefits approach, at times using a mild version of the humour Old Spice popularized in the category
  • In the U.S., they take a hybrid approach, using both features and benefits and a cause marketing approach (bringing dads home from war zones)

The "Real Beauty" campaign is consistent and iconic all over the world, while the men's campaign is a multi-themed hodge-podge, none of which is aligned with the well-established women's campaign. The problem this creates for Dove is that instead of being a single focused and compelling brand, it is now a confusing mish-mash of ideas that are all in conflict with each other. What's worse, all of the men's campaigns actually erode the power and credibility the "Real Beauty" campaign has built so carefully and successfully around itself over many years.

Normally we write our posts evangelizing the value of knowing who you are as a company -- expressed in seven words or less -- and then using that to guide everything you do and say. The "Real Beauty" initiative is a great example of a brand having a very clear understanding of who it is and executing on that consistently over time. But with the introduction of its men's products, and veering away from who it is, the Dove brand has become diluted and confusing.

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