Sunday, 21 October 2007

Onslaught



Well of course I love this next commercial and the values it stands for, but as I've said in the comments over here and here, and indeed to the client Unilever (the owners of the Dove brand), I don't think it's honest for a multinational to put 'keep-it real-credentials' in the 'Campaign for real beauty' while they sell skin whitening creams to among others, Indian subcontinent and South East Asian countries that are by nature blessed with dark skin.



Just doing the focus groups for these kind of products can be quite tough for those of us who think a bit about the effects on the culture of the societies that we make advertising for. Take Thailand for example, based on qualitative research, some office secretaries (for example) will choose who they take lunch with in groups, based on the whiteness of skin.

The darker skins are considered too 'rural' for those who want to climb the whiter skinned ethnic Chinese communities that effectively run S.E. Asia big business.


The aspiring English classes also used to take a dim view of darker skin in previous centuries because it indicated an agrarian lifestyle working in the fields. So I'm not trying to speed up cultural and media literacy development in these countries (or maybe I am), but I am suggesting to Unilever that specifically on it's skin whitening creams, it puts a disclaimer on ALL those products that Unilever embraces skin of all colours.

Otherwise its a bit hypocritical to be a campaigner for real beauty, when it's fake beauty and discrimination that powers one of the fastest growing skin care categories in many parts of the developing world.


Update: I see that the original video was pulled for copyright reasons but that that a remix is now resurfacing for the same issues of resource exploitation but this time the targets are Nestle.

11 comments:

  1. Well said. Last summer I sat around a table in France sipping vin rouge with a bunch of chums to celebrate the 40th of a former Unilever colleague. Most of the other 10 or so people at the table had either worked for the AngloDutch co. or for roster agencies, many of them women who had banged their heads against the glass ceiling. We all agreed with the argument that the Dove campaign is high hypocrisy from a co with 1 female board member - and she a non exec. Campaign for real sales. Period. Whatever works today works today. When a campaign for skinny catwalk sticks sells more we will switch to that in a nanosec.

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  2. Great point about Dove's brand values as a Unilever brand. I agree with you that it does seem hypocrytical to have other brands that serve to manipulate the natural. But ethics aside, that's why they need to keep their silo structure as apposed to a sub-brand structure. /Fredrik

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  3. Come on Fredrik. You're one of the smartest international planners I know and there is a much deeper discussion than business silos. Lets save it for that beer. Hong Kong, Taiwan or China. You choose and I'll tip up there mate.

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  4. Hi Clive. Sorry about publishing your comment so slowly, I'm up to my neck in work things at the moment. I think we are on the same wavelength but I assure you that there is a new breed of third millennium planners who believe that business can integrate proper values without compromising on wealth creation. Indeed, fundamentally values are at the centre of it all. Dove is doing exciting stuff but there's a hard conversation that needs to be had with Unilever at some point.

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  5. Just posted about the Dove/Axe spoof and linked to you on Shaping Youth here: http://www.shapingyouth.org/blog/?p=773

    We're a nonprofit dealing w/media and marketing's impact on kids, and have a diverse consortium of industry pros, academics, corporations, and regular Joe-parents.

    Strongly concur w/your assessment of the contradiction issue far beyond 'silos' and filters...it's humanity we're talking about here, people, and little kids are being trashed by this media pollution. They're the ones caught up in this whiplash of mixed messages...

    Can't we all take a Socratic oath to 'do no harm' and ensure profits don't come on the backs of psyches?

    Seems like an ethical avenue to me...And the skin bleaching stuff is just...ugh...wrong.

    America's worst export, homogenization.

    We're infiltrating cultures hither and yon polluting at multi-levels, from consumerism and idealism that's narrowcast and shallow, to junk food franchise sludge that tears at the very fabric of cultural identity.

    I feel such shame for our industry, that I'm dedicating my life to over-turn the damage...Lift the veil...reveal the harm...show the truth...and get a conscience fergoshsakes.

    Anyway, thanks for doin' your part with this post here. Really appreciate it on the ethical front...I KNOW in my heart there are many of us that see with a creative/mktg. vision that can turn this tanker around. You in?

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  6. Of course I'm in Shaping youth. cefrith at hotmail.com

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  7. Are you asking me to take down the link?

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  8. thanks charles, glad to have you as an ally. my professor led a class discussion last week based on my mention of 'fair and lovely' skin whitener in my blog. some students think it's no bigger of a deal than self tanner, but i think it's outrageous. thanks again for your insight.

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  9. thanks charles, glad to have you as an ally. my professor led a class discussion last week based on my mention of 'fair and lovely' skin whitener in my blog. some students think it's no bigger of a deal than self tanner, but i think it's outrageous. thanks again for your insight.

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  10. thanks for bringing this to my attention :)

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