The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Are Some Creatives Losing Their Understanding Of What They Do …
May 15, 2008, 7:00 am
Filed under: Comment

This no doubt will be a contentious issue, but I have started noticing more and more campaigns not being consistent to their core brand idea.Sure things should always be able to evolve, but when a brand is representing a ‘philosophy’, then you can’t just go and do work that is contrary to it.

Lets take DOVE for example …

I really love their Campaign For Real Beauty idea – sure it’s not as pragmatic as say the Body Shop tried to do with their ‘Supermodel’ campaign – but they have been very consistent in encouraging, celebrating and communicating their belief that all women are beautiful, even if they don’t subscribe to the conventional definition of the word as promoted by catwalks and magazines.

Lets remember this is a Unilever brand – hardly the greatest company for social causes – so the fact they’ve done quite alot of things to demonstrate they really believe in this idea rather than just shouting about it, is cause for congratulation.

OK, so they still run their ads in the usual crop of beauty mags – which sort of bothers me, especially because they could have taken the opportunity to slag off the other brands in the mag who are basically keeping many women in the trap of believing external appearance is all that matters – but all in all I think this is a great campaign [even though it doesn’t work in Asia for cultural reasons] and could be a blueprint for many other brands who regard their category as ‘low interest’.

It still bothers me how Unilever can support great ad ideas like this and AXE/Lynx then put out shit like the Magnum campaign with Eva Longoria, but that’s something I’ve already bitched about so I’ll get back to the point …

So DOVE have been very consistent over a long period of time with a very simple and powerful idea and then someone, somewhere goes and approves this ..

If you can’t read the body copy, it say’s this …


DOVE Summer Glow is the first tanning moisturiser to exclusively combine ingredients which help prevent streaking and prolong your tan. We guarantee you’ll prefer it too.

Now you might not think there’s anything wrong with that – except the way the copy is written seems to undermine the whole concept that all women are beautiful regardless how they look externally.

In other words it’s a creative/client not really appreciating the intricacy of the brand idea.

To be honest, I’ve had these issues with Aussie agencies interpretation international brand core ideas before [LOWES did a campaign for Lynx/Axe that was quite possibly one of the worst pieces of shit I’ve ever seen] and while cultural differences have to be taken into account to ensure brand relevancy with the target audience, that doesn’t justify this DOVE ad any more than it justified LOWES turning Lynx into basically the ‘Hooters’ of deodorants.

Now you may think I’m being pedantic – and maybe I am – but all it needed was the copy to be written from the angle of ‘moisturising skin’ first and the tanning benefits second – is that so hard?

Well it probably is, but isn’t that why clients pay agencies a fortune? For our ability to make the complicated simple and interesting?

If I really wanted to be a pain in the ass I could argue that DOVE shouldn’t even be going into product areas like tanning in the first place because it’s a blatant ‘artificial beauty product’ – however as I have said many times before, companies only value strategy till they feel there’s another revenue stream they think they can tap into.

Australia map from memory Photo: Nad

The only justification I can come up with for this DOVE ad is that it was made for Australia – a land where having ‘tanned’ skin is a big thing – though I still think it would have been more powerful if they’d gone against this stereotype rather than actively embrace it or at least made the product more of a ‘sunscreen’ than a ‘tanning lotion’. [Though I am guessing this product is more for Australia’s winter months rather than the summer where you get a tan just by walking to the corner shop! If that’s the case, couldn’t they have said it was a moisturiser that brought out the skins natural beauty, including all the sunshine you absorbed from the previous Summer?]

I am under no illusion that the general public haven’t noticed this slip up – but it’s these sort of things that drive me [and especially Andy] mad because in it’s own small way it undermines the purpose of the brand and if these things are allowed to get through, then it gets progressively worse to the point where it wouldn’t surprise me if DOVE launched a full-on range of cosmetics.

What bothers me most is that it could have been so easy to sort out – people just had to spent a little time understanding what the brand stood for and then write around that – but no, it goes out because it ‘looks like a DOVE ad even if it doesn’t ‘speak’ like one.

To be fair to the agency, I bet the client pushed this approach because they wanted the products ‘tanning’ benefits upfront and centre, but I still think this is the sort of thing creatives and planners should fight against – or get involved in the process much earlier – because our whole credibility is linked to the actions of our clients so when they make a stupid decision, it’s not just them who suffer the consequences.

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When I first looked at the ad my first reaction (like you mention) was to argue why Dove are bothering with fake tan anyways – doesn’t this slap their “real beauty” essence right in the face?

I think on that level it really damages all the hard work they’ve done because people see that it’s all just “marketing” and not legit.

Which raises another question in my head… do your average consumer even notice this? Do they even care? The longer I work in this lark the more I’m asking myself this question and I’m still unsure. Of course it matters on some level, but when i think about that lady who lives in Burwood with three kids a hubby and a maltese shitsu… I wonder how much she really cares to notice. Maybe that’s why Dove believe they can get away with stuff like this? Will consumers actually see the disconnect as much as we do?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to discount what you’ve said (in fact, I’m with you in making sure these things don’t happen in the first place because that’s one of the fundamental roles of a good planner!) i’m just keen to get your opinion…

Anyways, great post.

Comment by Age

I agree with you all the way Robert, the ability to be creatively consistent towards a central idea is becoming less and less common but I don’t think this is purely the fault of the creatives because there are so many people/departments who are involved in the journey of creative output that the blame for this situation has to be shared equally.

There are many reasons why this is happening but I think fundamental communication training is one of the key issues because I am seeing more and more portfolios/briefs that have either amazing style but little substance, no imagination but plenty of rationality or no strategy just plenty of hope.

I am sure this post will encourage certain individuals to say you’re out of date with your attitude; that you’re limiting brands creative and financial potential, trying to impose a structure on imagination or just talking about things no one cares about, but they would be missing the point of what you’re actually saying and what we’re paid to do.

This is a great post and though many of the public won’t notice or care what you’re saying, it is one of the small elements that has helped Axe, Virgin, BK, Nike and Mini be the brands that they are.

PS: I really like the “brings out the sunshine of the last 6 months” idea for Dove.

Comment by Pete

if rob really was putting the blame for this at the feet of creatives id be kicking the fucker in the head but hes not and he wouldnt.

age is right, people dont notice or care about this sort of thing and why the fuck should they because most brands dont mean shit to them but people in the communication industry should give a shit and i include clients in that.

rob isnt talking about imposing a rigid structure or stopping clients making money or limiting creativity but he is saying the fucking basics of brand building through creativity are starting to be ignored or forgotten when the rules still fucking apply and the cred of what we do is being brought more into question.

i like this post, i like its about caring and making things better and though you talk a load of shit most of the time and havent touched on how planners are massive fuck up fairies in all this, im behind you and for once its not with a knife in my hand

Comment by andy@cynic

aw man, the whole dove things gets me quite feisty! what with the recent ‘expose’ that they retouch the fuck out of their models as much as revlon, l’oreal and the rest of the meat market crew, (which isn’t all that surprising, but depressing nonetheless), couple that with this kind of thoughtless crap, dove is going to start losing its advocates fast, even if they’re not losing consumers straight away (a rapid downward slide only needs the slightest shift).

i can see that tanning stuff would work with their core idea if it was to prevent women getting out into the (esp. harsh aussie) sun and baking the crap out of their skin by taking care of themselves better. but if it’s just to jump on the recent fad of looking like a navel orange with uber obvious fake-tan, then dove can take a fucking swan dive.

and the fact that the advertising/comms community don’t jump all over this more means that the industry will continue to come off as the facilitators for this kind of manipulation of women’s vulnerabilities for material gain, again and again.

Comment by lauren

yep Andy, thats exactly right. I think our job in the industry should be to keep clients in check, not for the sake of the consumer but rather for themselves. Here’s hoping they care more about their brand more than their job if you follow what i mean…

Comment by Age

Rob, you’re forgetting the most important thing – NOBODY reads the body copy…

Comment by Tom from Perth

thats because so much body copy isnt worth reading tom, not because every fucker is a lazy, illiterate bastard.

and why has lauren said pretty much the exact same shit as rob? its basically the same fucking post just using different words. better words, but the same fucking meaning.

i hope its laziness because i dont want my swearing lovely to start being some sort of campbell advocate, that would be truly shit

Comment by andy@cynic

i’ll shut up from now on. i’m just repeating shit obviously.

Comment by lauren

and this rant is not about body copy, its about the headline, the idea, the product and the brand but no one reads or cares about them either

Comment by andy@cynic

theres nothing wrong with repeating yourself or others lauren, campbell has somehow made a career out of it

Comment by andy@cynic

Everyone has a responsibility to ensure a brand philosophy is adhered to, starting with clients understanding the “cause” of the company, the company understanding the implications of that “cause” and the agencies understanding the importance of attention to “cause”.

The reason clients pay agencies enormous amounts of money is because they know they’re the only ones who can simplify the complex without losing soul, integrity or desirability so if Tom from Perth feels body copy is pointless then I wonder how communication companies can continue to claim they help brands develop because being limited to headlines just doesn’t cut it.

Naturally companies have to live their philosophy but agencies need to take the responsibility for making sure their clients say things properly as well. Nice to see you come to Robert’s defence Andy.

Comment by Lee Hill

Consistency and coherence are the key to any “positioning” and is one of the reasons why the idea that businesses should stand for something is so compelling. I wonder if it’s slipping in this example and elsewhere because marketers don’t understand that and react to the impactful “creative” element of an ad rather than its whole or whether the belief that “messaging” is bad leads to a more scattergun project by project approach?

I firmly believe that brands mean different things to different people and that it is the people rather than the brands that assign those values, but without consistency and coherence in the brand’s efforts, confusion will ultimately reign.

P.S. George’s silence on this interesting matter is I assume due to the fact that he’s still locked in the garage.

Comment by John

I saw some intimidating figures that showed DOve recommendation levels that were attributed to the brand. Looks like women do care about Dove.
That’s why this ad makes my blood boil.

Comment by northern

of course we cared about dove northern. for the first time, underage, underdressed, overstretched women weren’t been shoved down our throats as an expectation of what it means to be beautiful.

the first time the real beauty campaign was splashed across sydney, i rang my mum to tell how beautiful she is. this ad doesn’t inspire me to do that.

i know, i said i’d shut up. i’m going now.

Comment by lauren

Brand perception is a very personal thing because the attitudes and experiences of the individual influences how they view a brands behaviour, but a consistent approach to brand voice and conduct can play a major part in helping drive key attributes into people’s consideration set which ultimately helps create differentiation and direction.

Comment by Lee Hill

could lee and john get a fucking room

and george isnt still locked in the shed, hes in fucking scotland which is even fucking worse!

Comment by andy@cynic

Maybe it’s because I’m so bloody tired, but I’m quite shocked we had such a general consensus of opinion – but then when you’re right, you’re right aren’t you, ha!

Comment by Rob


Comment by andy@cynic

But you still use far too many words to say it.

Comment by John

well no words are necessary for what people think of you dodds πŸ˜‰

Comment by andy@cynic

Being a perceptive sod, I don’t think you mean that mere words cannot do me justice.

Comment by John

I always thought that soap was to get your skin clean – use Coldtar soap – kills acne as well as dirt!

Comment by Will Rhodes

its like you have a 6th sense isnt it dodds

Comment by andy@cynic

Hang on.

I’m all for integrity of positioning and consistency. Being real. Staying true. And good ideas, like the Dove one.

But for fuck’s sake, would having ‘moisturising skin’ in the first line and ‘tanning’ in the second line really make a huge difference?? Isn’t that just trickery? I totally agree they could have done a much better job copywriting (or briefing the copywriters), perhaps touching on ‘feeling comfortable in your own skin’, but I don’t see anything wrong with Dove providing a fake tan for tanning purposes rather than moisturisation.

Dove’s mission is to make more women feel beautiful every day by widening stereotypical views of beauty. They want to celebrate the essence of women – no matter what shape or colour it comes in. But they don’t have an issue with women beautifying themselves, however they see fit, do they? As long as they don’t feel as though they have to conform, and as long as they have high self-esteem.

Fake tan gives you confidence and makes you feel beautiful, without damaging your beautiful skin. And it’s something you can choose to do as and when you want to. Dove, to me, says ‘love your pale skin, love your healthily tanned skin, you’re beautiful no matter what’. And within that, when talking about a product, surely they’re allowed to talk about its efficacy, that it doesn’t streak??

This is not a good ad but I think you’re being overly harsh.


Comment by Angus

Notwithstanding the superficial disparity between fake tan and real beauty, I think Angus makes a very good point. A real tan is fake after all so, given that the ad doesn’t say being tan is better than not being tan, I’m inclined to agree that it is not being inconsistent. Moreover, I’m wondering if anyone’s noticed that this isn’t an airbrushed model at all. Take another look.

Anyway well said Angus and not a sodding cat video in sight. Keep it up.

Comment by John

Dove is about celebrating all shapes and sizes, colour and age of women but what stops them endorsing Paris Hilton is that these women are “real”, not artificial and this links to the Dove product range because they are (or were) about enhancing/enriching what nature had given women – which is why one of the key elements in their products is/was “moisturiser” (ie: rehydration)

We can argue whether a tan from the sun is “fake beauty” but as you get it by generally natural means I am inclined to think it’s not as artificial as sun ray lamps or fake tan creams and given one of Dove’s most famous ads was the “covergirl” viral, I think this publically states the brand is pro-natural woman and that is why I believe a product that creates “artificial beauty” is wrong for the brand and wrong to be used as a core message in a campaign, regardless that it does no physical damage to the body.

Dove isn’t about making the best of what you’ve got, it’s about celebrating what you’ve got which is why they support “young girl self esteem clinics” and not make wonderbras. Yet. πŸ™‚

Sure, as long as women are doing it for themselves [rather than feeling pressured into adopting a media-driven stereotypical look] I am sure the Dove brand would happily endorse their actions, however the actual brand has – through it’s products and communication – only focused on celebrating the ‘real [ie: raw/natural] you’ which is why this product confuses their position … and if they’ve changed their stance, which is quite possible, then they should make sure everyone knows about it. Or at least me. πŸ™‚

In all seriousness, I do understand and accept what you’re saying Angus – and this comment probably has come out harsher than intended (blame it on a hell plane journey and a late connection … which I’m still waiting on now) – but these little things are, at least to me, important because if you let one thing go, then the slippery slope has started and it’s much quicker going down than up.

I’ll shut up now, my plane has finally been fucking called.

Comment by Rob

Oh and yes, I have worked on the brand. Long time ago, but I did get “immersed” in their philosophy.

(gossip: while O&M claim they came up with the idea, another company was the one actually behind it. Ooer!)

PS: Are you OK with the UK immigration now Angus?

Comment by Rob

i fucking love angus, she got campbells knickers in a twist. too bad i find myself agreeing with every convoluted word he fucking wrote

Comment by andy@cynic

You’re such a puppet Andy πŸ™‚

Rob, if you truly feel the way you do about what Dove stands for then I can’t believe you would suggest that a tanning message be pushed lower in a message or be something other than a “core message” – surely it shouldn’t be there at all. I hate messaging priorities.

I too have been immersed in their philosophy, as a consumer, the truest way possible πŸ™‚ From looking at their website and looking at their ads, I don’t take out that you can’t change or prettify yourself if you want to. They’re just saying you can be beautiful no matter what size, shape and age. You can still prettify yourself, but you don’t have to, and you don’t have to strive to some barbie doll image. Their self tanning cream and tinted moisturisers (same as foundation) are thus acceptable to me.

PS. No

PPS. This is fun.

PPPS. Not the immigration thing.

Comment by Angus

I land and what’s the first thing I hear?

Andy going, “Angus is taking you on my boy” with a huge shit-eating grin on his face.

You are a little tinker Angus – as I said I’m [sort-of] agreeing with you …

I am sure that as long as women are doing it for themselves [rather than feeling pressured into adopting a media-driven stereotypical look] the brand would probably [I say probably because it’s a fucking Unilever brand, not a person] happily endorse any woman ‘prettyfying themselves up’ … but on a day-to-day basis, Dove – through it’s products and communication – wants to celebrate and encourage women to feel that the β€˜real [ie: raw/natural] them’ is just as beautiful and worthy of feeling confident/good about which is why a fake tanning product has the potential of confusing their position because then the company is only a small step away from producing DOVE make-up , lingerie or vacuum cleaners πŸ˜‰

I know it seems petty and a little thing – but brands aren’t people and having/demonstrating a core value/philosophy is important to maintain because otherwise they can lose their meaning in people’s minds in an instant, mainly because society has far more important things to worry/rejoyce about.

I’m not endorsing the ‘one-word-equity’ bollocks, but I am talking about one core value/philosophy which in Dove’s case has been about Real Beauty – though it’s the definition of that term which is what we seem to be disagreeing about.

[which in itself proves how they’re still not quite there yet because even though as Mr Dodds and Mr Lee quite rightly state, “a brand is in the mind of the consumer” – the brand plays a very central role in forming that opinion in people’s minds.

People may hate Virgin but they know what it fundamentally represents [because they ‘live’ what they say and have consistently for years], though given we’re talking about DOVE – a Unilever brand – maybe they don’t want that because then that would mean they are potentially sacrificing/alienating consumers which means even less billions to reap from gullible consumers πŸ˜‰ ]

PS: I did say that I’d rather they didn’t make this product at all but as I am aware companies only care about strategy till they see another way to make money, this ‘less-than-perfect’ approach would at least lead to some communication consistency. I hate messaging priorities, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have them – especially when clients make fuckwit products like this, hahaha!

Comment by Rob

I like that you had that kind of landing. Thank you Andy, I owe you πŸ™‚

You’ve just spend four paragraphs agreeing with me about core values/philosophies Campbell, but we will agree to disagree about what Dove’s philosophy REALLY is in the mind of the consumer, or, me.

But I’m glad to hear you hate messaging priorities as you had me worried there…

Nice doing business with you. Over and out πŸ™‚

Comment by Angus

Opinions are like assholes – we all have them except some are prettier than others and on this issue, mine is fucking J-Lo’s, ha!

PS: To make you happy Angus, I can tell you that I’ve copped shit all weekend from Andy and bloody Billy acting as your bloody cheerleading squad. They even called me a sexist bastard for my ‘vacuum cleaner’ joke – the hypocrites!

PPS: Here’s something DOVE should have sponsored, but in a ‘reverse mindset’ kinda-way …

Comment by Rob

Creatives jumping on bandwagons? Surely not.

Comment by John

Oh fuck I love that video Rob.

Comment by Angus

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