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Dove creates a spot of PR beauty

22nd April 2013


I’m not really sure any more that this column is about PR.

It was always called Antics Roadshow (or at least that what I called it) for the simple reason that I wanted it to have latitude.

But I’ll be honest, even I didn’t think that, eighteen months after I started writing it, I’d have covered straight-up stunts from PR agencies, ads digital shops, digital campaigns from ad agencies, apps … you name it.

But such is the world of PR. It’s all changing.

So perhaps I shouldn’t really be surprised that I’m writing about an ad campaign made in Brazil some months back but which has just hit a global stage – I can only assume because a Unilever global brand manager spotted just how wonderful it was and took it international.

Here it is:

The spot is a return to form for Dove if you ask me. Having been legendary for their PR campaigns approach, they rather lost their way. This piece of work, however, sparkles.

What do we learn?

First of all that great content – with ad agency (rather than PR agency) production values and production budgets – will make a point far more strongly than any piece of work that is done on half-rate fees by semi-professionals. So if you’re in PR and you’ve got a belting idea then make the pitch for the money to do it right.

But the thing that really stands out about this piece of work is that it’s divisive.

It’s made a lot of people weep and send the link on to friends with one of those “oh my God, you must watch this” email notes.

It has also made some people very, very angry. By and large because the ad implies that you have to think that you’re beautiful to be happy. Or at least that’s how some folk read it.

People are cross with the fact that this spot implies that the some things that perhaps shouldn’t be negatives are in fact things to be ashamed of (fat, rounder face, freckles, fatter, 40, starting to get crows feet, moles, scars). And that the implied positive descriptors used (thin face, nice thin chin, nice eyes , short and cute nose and very nice blue eyes) shouldn’t be promoted as the be-all and end-all of beauty.

For me, it’s the fact that it hasn’t been afraid to make people angry, to cause a fuss, to take a stand and make a point, that makes this piece of work … work. It has opinion that makes it editorial rather than purely a piece of traditional “advertising”. And it’s not afraid to make it’s point firmly.

It’s all those things that make it PR and PR-able.

It’s got people talking – and set out deliberately and explicitly to do so. And for that alone, I think Dove has got its mojo back and that this campaign is worth celebrating.

And if you didn’t think that it’s got people engaged, parody being the sincerest form of flattery, here’s the spoof:

James Gordon-MacIntosh is founder and Managing Partner at Hope&Glory PR



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