Marketing Genius from Maple Creative


Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Discussion: Unilever

The last you heard from me I was working on a research paper. Since then, I have written a rough and final draft, and finished the course I was working on the paper for. I aced the paper in case you were wondering. 

So now, I get to provide you with some fun information I discovered. I think I will do this in multiple parts, each blog on a different topic I covered in my paper. 

This time: 


This is the parent company of several brands, including Dove.

Dove began its Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004, using “real women” of many shapes, sizes and ages rather than professional models in its advertisements. Some of you may recall seeing the short film/commercial “Evolution” (look it up on YouTube if you haven’t!) This film shows a women being transformed from average to model-like, with makeup application, hairstyling and the wonders of Photoshop. The film has won two Grand Prix Cannes Advertising Awards and has millions of views on YouTube. Quite a success! 

Unilever also owns another company with award winning advertisements… 

Axe. This brand’s advertisements are quite the opposite of Dove’s. Axe boasts taglines like “It can happen anywhere, the Axe effect” and “How dirty boys get clean.” Many of Axe’s advertisements use the kinds of models that Dove is trying to eliminate. One advertisement in particular seems to promote multiple “encounters” with women… four towels are shown next to a shower, labeled “his,” “hers,” “her sister’s” and “her roommate’s.” 

Some have criticized Unilever for promoting two very different viewpoints, and their spokesperson Anita Larson is quoted as saying “Unilever is a large global company with many brand in our portfolio. Each brand effort is tailored to reflect the unique interests and needs of its audience.” 

So, what do you think? Do you think Unilever is right to promote such different viewpoints for different brands? Do you feel tricked upon discovering the same company that promotes Dove’s “real beauty” also creates raunchy ads for Axe? Are consumers too touchy? 

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you seriously asking this question on a blog called "Marketing Genius"? It seems to me like Unilever is the marketing genius in this case.

9:42 AM

Anonymous rebecca said...


I am all for more positive self-image messages in the media, but I also think people need to lighten up a bit. I think the Axe ads are funny -- sort of lampooning this whole sex-appeal angle in marketing. I'm sick of the whole "you should look like a model if you're a woman or you're worthless" thing going on in some ads (mainly in weight loss ads) but the Axe ads still make me giggle. They're just silly!

9:58 AM

Blogger Erin Deegan said...

Anonymous- Technically I am not a "marketing genius" yet, just a "genius in training" until I get my degree!

Rebecca- I agree, I think the Axe ads are funny, annoying at times, but still humorous. Although I had classmates that were VERY offended by those ads, perhaps they need to lighten up =)

2:40 PM

Blogger jenniferwood said...

Dove has recently caught some flack for their "real beauty" campaign. This was a result of the New Yorker article about Pascal Dangin, the leading retouching artist in the industry. He retouched his photos as well as the photos taken by Annie Leibovitz. Dove states that no relevant retouching was done (fly away hair, etc. was retouched, but not their bodies). So, I'm not sure how they can get away with that, but it seems as they have. People realize that their campaign wasn't as "real" as originally thought. However, I feel that people are still thankful that they tried to do a campaign like this. They are still using real women as models. Their campaign for improving young girls' self esteem/image is a good one. So, I guess because their concept was good, people seem to continue to appreciate the campaign.

Check out more about this at

And I don't think that people make a connection between Axe and Dove. Two different audiences and demographic. I think people see the Axe campaign as humorous and fun. The Dove campaign is a little more serious and emotional. So, I don't think that people have a problem with Unilever doing two very different campaigns. If people knew that Unilever made discount brands as well as higher end brands, they would realize that it's not worth the extra cost for the higher priced products. But they don't and Axe and Dove have done very well.

1:45 PM

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2:59 AM


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