Friday, November 30, 2007

Sins of the father?

Interesting debate going on in the advertising world. If you're like me and apparently live under a rock, read about it in this article from Advertising Age: "Dove Viral Draws Heat From Critics."

Here's the sitch. We've all seen Dove's revolutionary campaigns for women. (What? Ads that don't make women feel ugly and disgusting? I can't believe it!) Watch the infamous "Evolution" ad here.

(For the record, the "Evolution" ad caused some great debates on the Fordham Sociology message boards last year when I was still in the program there, not unlike Dove's ad campaigns in general. The two arguments sound something like this. Side 1: Dove's Campaign for Women is a huge advertising scam, playing on women's insecurities to sell products while pretending it's noble. Side 2: All companies advertise, including Dove, and all advertising is trying to sell products. Wouldn't you rather have positive advertising that's empowering for women?)

Anyway, this newest controversy is over a more recent Dove internet ad that picks on the beauty advertising industry. It's a nice ad, called "Onslaught." Watch it here:

Here's the controversy: Dove is owned by Unilever. Unilever who? The same Unilever who brings you Axe body spray, with its amazingly misogynistic ad campaigns. Critics cringe at the hypocrisy of Dove picking on the beauty industry while its hot sexy brother company is one of the worst offenders. So this video has been circling on the web lately, "Onslaught Exposed." Check it out:

This video was made by an industry insider... Rye Clifton, who's a senior strategic planner at another agency. Adds an interesting twist, no?

I'm not sure how I feel about all this. On one hand, Dove and Axe have two different advertising agencies running their campaigns. Should one be held responsible for the other? On the other hand, they are separate brands owned by the same company. Does that make Dove too full of hypocrisy? The Dove campaign is great, and ultra-representative of Dove's branding and mission statement. I appreciate the new ads. Does the hypocrisy take away from them? I'm not sure. I'm pretty jaded in general, and tend to see all corporations as hypocrites off the bat. I distrust anyone trying to sell me a product at all. They may be hypocrites because of their brother brand, but at least Dove's ads themselves are positive.

Regardless, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the controversy is the power of social media. These Dove ads are internet-release only, I believe. The "Onslaught Exposed" ad was created by a strategic planner purely for release on the internet. The discussion around the videos is happening on blogs and forums. Fascinating stuff. She types, while on the internet.

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