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More than skin deep December 4, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in conversation, marketing, storytelling.
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Dove Onslaught(er)

Image by Capitan Giona via Flickr

So a while back I got up on a high horse (I know I know, say it isn’t so) about story-telling in advertising. I identified the three ways stories get told in advertising, and was making a case for the third way (giving your consumers tools to tell their own stories) as being by far the most powerful. I want to get side-tracked for a second on this and look at two Dove commercials. One made by them, another made by Greenpeace.

The first: Evolution.

Everyone agrees (I think…) it’s a great piece of work and the conversation is continued over at The Campaign For Real Beauty which doesn’t seem to have an Australian presence but is all over Europe and the Americas. It’s a play at talking about something much bigger than the products they produce, which should really go without saying these days. Two years on and it is still a compelling piece of work.

How hollow does it ring though when followed up with this: Onslaught(er)?

Onslaught(er) brought such incredible public pressure to bear that Unilever, Dove’s parent company, had little choice but to work with Greenpeace to help save the very forests they had been destroying to create their product. They began a 6 month program in May of this year to work together to bring the plight of the forests in South East Asia to all companies that were destroying the forests for palm oil.

So here there are two very different stories being told, one the company wants to push about its products and one someone else wants to push about the company. Admittedly the former offered up a platform for consumers to have a discussion about beauty, but when the message is re-framed with the second piece of footage, the whole exercise falls pretty flat for me.

Perhaps it is a cheap or easy shot to take, but it has been repeated this month in the US with a company called Motrin whose light-hearted poke at baby slings backfired out of sight. The first move was a company telling its own story, the next was the community telling one entirely different.

Anyone else have some good examples of this sort of thing?

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