We like to keep a periodic eye on the developments in the area of brand turnarounds. In many ways brand turnarounds can be viewed as being a bit like a visit to the operating theater of marketing: it’s a chance to get an inside look at what makes good branding and what makes weak branding. You can watch in real time as skilled operators try to perform open-heart surgery on a struggling brand.
It’s for this reason that we are staying abreast of the developments at KFC where they are in the process of trying to wrestle their brand back to relevancy. Brand turnaround moments are especially useful because in a relatively short period of time you get to witness an object lesson in what makes a brand fly or flop.
But today we’re not going to be looking at KFC. Today we will be doing a quick analysis of the success Dove has enjoyed in recent years. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons for Dove’s success.
Let’s Get Real
In the early 2000s, Dove was a respected but slightly dull soap brand. But, in 2004, Dove launched it’s Real Women campaign. It was a big moment and I myself remember seeing it for the first time advertised in the Times. This advertising campaign was striking and probably for the same reason that I remember it so well. It was the first time that I had seen ‘real’ women used to promote a beauty product. In beauty advertising the previous protocol had always been to focus on unrealistic beauty ideals. Instead this campaign aimed to help women celebrate their inner and outer beauty. Few campaigns can have hit the sweet spot between engaged, sincere content and feel-good advertising so successfully. Within 6 months, Dove sales were up 7 times their usual rate. So far so good.
Build on Success
Like all smart operators, Dove has not rested on its laurels. Since 2004, the brand has built on its early success by continuing with the Real theme in subsequent campaigns. In their advertising campaign in 2013 — as well as their most recent one — Dove have focused on the gap between many women’s perceptions of themselves and their real beauty. They have used FBI sketch artists to show the difference between how women describe themselves and how they actually appear. In their latest campaign they urge women to ‘choose beautiful’. Finally, Dove is extending their theme of Realness to their men’s line with their Real Strength campaign.
What Dove’s example shows is that heartfelt, genuine marketing can engage meaningfully with consumers, and the quality of these interactions will be measurable in sales.