Apr 15, 2011

Unilever's Dove Goes Sleeveless and Hits the Pits

Dove's new advertising has created a body anxiety that many women probably didn't even know they had and then sold them the solution.

But first the back story...

The Dove Ultimate Beauty Care line, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever, just recently launched their new "Go Sleeveless" campaign.

This clip won first prize for Dove at the BFI London Film Festival's Unilever Consumer Creative Challenge. In this minute-long commercial, titled "Go Sleeveless", we see a girl cutting off all the sleeves to her tops in an act of joy because she now has the confidence to show off her underarms after using Dove Ultimate roll-on deodorant.

This led to the recently launched Dove campaign featuring Jessica Szohr, star of Gossip Girl.

Raise your arms if you think your armpits are ugly - Jessica Szohr shows off her pits for Dove.
Quoted from the print ad:

"Rocking sleeveless styles makes me feel powerful and feminine."
Jessica Szohr, Actress

What Unilever and Dove have done is raise an anxiety through the use of fear. Unilever claim a survey they undertook in 2010 of 500 women showed an almost unanimous response (93% from an anonymous online poll) which revealed they had a negative opinion about the look of their armpits. But this is probably a surprise to many women in the marketplace.

Employing a strategy of unique selling proposition, Dove then addresses this anxiety by claiming that only their brand of deodorant can make your armpits both look and smell good, giving women "softer, smoother underarms in just five days."

Dove Ultimate Beauty Care - the only cure for your fugly armpits.
We wonder why some advertisers are held in low regard... why some consumers hate us, but then we don't question silly campaigns like this. Is this a question of ethics? Is creating a fear out of the ether and then presenting your product as the miracle cure (an age old tactic) really a strategy worth pursuing in a heavily saturated and highly competitive market?

Stephen Colbert, on Wednesday night's edition of his show, The Colbert Report, addressed Dove's hairy predicament and  found a humorous solution to their "breakthrough shame-o-vation" dilemma, solving it in a way that only he can.

Here's hoping Unilever grow a modicum of a conscience and rethink the future of the sleeveless campaign before their target audience begin putting Dove Ultimate's line of products at arms length.

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