Messaging > Marketing
Posted on May 5, 2022 by Blake Leath
I bebopped out Tuesday night to see Liam Neeson’s latest vengeance thriller, Memory. Standard fare, not unlike the preceding couple dozen movies by Neeson, and that’s totally fine by me. No point breaking the mold if the many flicks produced from that mold remain tried, true, fun, and profitable for everyone involved.
For a Tuesday night, the theater was packed. Raucous crowd, several groups of young men ages 18-24 chatting, chittering, challenging one another and talking the usual tough-guy / pre-flick trash. Chalk it up to being in a college town some 26 months after a pandemic hit. Everyone's restless, sowing his oats, and chest-bumping. I get it.
Eventually, folks are seated and hollerin’ at the screen for the show to start already.
But before Neeson could kick that ass and take those names, and before the trailers began, the theater ran a couple ad vids including one by Dove. You know Dove: It’s that ‘beauty bar’ for women that’s marketed as pure, clean, gentle — photos on their pristine packaging boxes usually include a shadowed drop of white lotion, or rose petals, or lavender something or other. Branding that’s as femme as femme can be.
-Projecting advertising (originally designed for women and girls) that’s instead being consumed here tonight by the AXE BODY WASH target demographic.
However, I gotta say, several beats into this ‘commercial,’ the room shifted. More ‘message’ than obnoxious ‘marketing,’ the four-minute story unfolding on screen surprised me because it really began to land. With everyone. Man by man, teen by teen, dude crew by dude crew, everyone slowly stopped talking and began staring at the screen.
Dove (a Unilever brand) has produced impactful videos for 15 years (as part of their ‘Self-Esteem Education’ commitment) that have now reached more than 60 million young people.
The particular ad vid that quieted and captivated our crowd was about ‘toxic beauty advice,’ the sort that dominates many young girls' social media feeds these days, though toxicity — whatever the message, the means, or target market — knows no bounds.
I personally have to limit the amount of time I roam social media because I sometimes find that afterward I feel worse about myself, not better. More discouraged and daunted than encouraged and buoyant.
We each apparently need to be doing more, being more, making or taking more, buying more, wearing less or more or different, flaunting more, giving more away, losing more weight, traveling or winning or kicking ass and generally taking more names and then humble-bragging all the more. Yep, these sure seem to be the messages we ALL complain about whenever the topic of social media rolls around in person but, like with any bad habit, it's pretty dang hard to swim beyond the riptide and contribute much differently.
Perhaps a wiser colleague said it best the other day when she remarked to me: “I’ve yet to end a single day and think to myself, ‘I only wish I’d spent more time today on social media!’”
Granted, there are examples from social media (like the Arab Spring that sprang in 2010) that make me feel quite good about these platforms and everyone having a voice, though there’s also an overabundance of vitriol, bullying, unbridled hate and outright evil lurking, stalking, trolling, trashing, and trafficking. As has been said, “Social media is Satan’s newspaper,” and while that’s admittedly a broad mischaracterization of something little more than a coded container, what we put into it sometimes makes me wonder whether Twitter and the like will ever become anything more than a technological toilet.
So kudos to Dove for trying.
Toxic beauty advice is but one grain of sand on a horizonless beach, but it’s refreshing nevertheless to see meaningful marketing propelled by a social cause-like purpose.
Yes, yes, I know their ‘message’ IS little more than ‘cleverer marketing,’ but just like I have no problem with Neeson’s predictability, I also have no problem with a beauty bar brand striving to be just a little bit more.
Like beauty, whether Dove is succeeding at turning any tide is in the eye of the beholder.
As for me, I, like you, shall continue to believe that less is more and that true, abiding, peace-bringing contentment is not having all that we want but, rather, wanting only what we have.
Here's to the struggle.
Learn more about Dove’s Self-Esteem Project (Mission; 'Confidence Kit' for Parents, Mentors & Guardians; Research; Articles).