As I brought up in my first Axe post, I have a personal vendetta against Unilever. In case you don’t know:
- Dove has made a monumental world-wide splash with it’s Self Esteem Fund and online ads “Evolution” and “Onslaught”.
- Axe has gotten huge web play and a booming market share with wet dream, mega-horny, Porky’s style advertising.
- Unilever is the huge mega-corporation that owns both brands.
Watch this great vid and check out the Dove vs. Axe advertising for yourself:
Here’s the thing: both campaigns are amazing. They’re doing their intended jobs perfectly. The Dove ads, created by Ogilvy + Mather Toronto, are inspirational and groundbreaking and tap into the growing female backlash against the beauty industry and the need to love yourself for who you really are. The Axe ads, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, are hilarious and actually pretty witty and tap into the genetically inherent male desire to watch boobs jiggle and fuck as many people as you can. One plays on breaking stereotypes and one plays on supporting them. It’s win-win. Good for them.
I have the luxury of thinking this because I don’t have any daughters…
If I did have daughters, I would have no way to explain to her why the soap she’s using wants her to love her fat and freckles and not shy away from letting her eyebrows grow out, while the body spray her boyfriend is using wants her to get implants and wax her legs and give head at the drop of a hat. How do you possibly justify one with the other?
Unilever has brushed the criticism off by pointing out that it has a huge number of brands that are each marketed to a specific target. That’s a psuedo-truth. The problem is that they’re not marketing a product with Dove so much as a fundamental human idea. Then they have another campaign that destorys that idea. It’s not like they’re selling pink soap to girls and blue soap to boys. They’re selling feminine self-empowerment to girls and anti-feminine self-empowerment to boys. They’re building it up and breaking it down at the same time, so that they can make more money.
The campaign with real value, Dove, is totally negated by Axe. The more people figure this out the more they will talk about it and the completely worth-while idea behind Dove whithers away as everyone learns that the message is not genuine. It’s not sincere. They are merely being “targeted”. To sell soap on a mother’s dream that her daughters won’t become anorexic. While selling body spray to her son, who’s Unilver-enforced desire to date a Barbie doll will help make other mother’s daughters anorexic.
To deny the obvious problem here is to be, in the simplest of terms, a big evil company. In the growingly savvy world of blogging, viral marketing and online advertising people aren’t as stupid as they used to be. Unilever’s hypocritical lie is being exposed more and more each day. Hallelujah.
Thanks to my friend Darryl for sending me the vid.