Dove shows perils of rushing out three-second ads without thinking

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Dove is failing to understand the public and struggle to clearly get its message across to consumers.

Every now and then a brand will come up with an idea for a campaign or ad and get it completely wrong as it misjudges the public reaction and doesn’t think about how the public will view it.

We have seen this happen countless times in the past with the latest example being a Dove ad that went up on Facebook over the weekend.

The ad shows a black woman wearing a T-shirt, which matches her skin tone.

Supposedly, she then uses some Dove body lotion and then takes off the T-shirt revealing a white woman in a white T-shirt.

People were quick to comment on social media with some suggesting that the three-second gif could be considered as "racist".

It didn’t take long for the gif to be removed and for Unilever to say it had "missed the mark" and that it "deeply regrets the offence it caused."

Were people too quick, though, to jump on the PC bandwagon?

Naomi Blake, who is a black American make-up artist, shared the post. She asked if people would be offended if the white woman took off her top and a black woman was revealed.

She said: "Nope, we wouldn’t and that’s the whole point. What does America tell black people? That we are judged by the colour of our skin and that includes what is considered beautiful in this country."

Dove clearly did not intend to offend and certainly did not plan any racist implications in the gif.

What this shows is Dove failing to understand the public and struggle to clearly get its message across to consumers.

However, you would think that in 2017 with all the resources that big brands and marketing teams have at their disposal getting your message across would be simple.

It is clear some brands continue to struggle with this.

One reason this is happening could be because it is easy to come up with an idea in a room one afternoon, which can be considered non-conventional and then have it promoted on social media the very next day.

Just a few years ago we would never consider spending a large part of our budget on a three-second video.

These days, though, a gif can be seen by millions of people around the country who are liking, commenting, sharing and engaging with the content – all of which are a marketer’s dream.

But what if no-one outside the small room who was part of the original conversation has seen the ad and been able to question it?

It can mean that no one has truly thought about how it will be viewed by the public.

Therefore what can then end up happening as a result is a huge mistake that lives long in the memory.

It is very easy to become over excited by an idea in an office, which we think is exceptional. We have all done it – only for us to go and speak to someone else and they point out a serious issue with our plan.

For our message to really connect with the everyday person, we need to step back, not just rush our idea onto a social media website, and put money behind it. Clearly, on this occasion it has not worked for Dove.

Creating a three-second gif to interact with an audience is by no means a conventional way of communicating a message across to the people with whom you are trying to engage.

You would never spend money on a three-second TV or radio ad. We need to remember that the tried and tested forms of getting a message out to the mass market are hugely effective and there is much less likelihood that a massive mistake will be made. 

When a brand comes to us at Trinity Mirror, it needs to fit in with the high standards that we have and it must work with our titles and the content that we produce.

We would not place just any ad from any brand next to our content. After all, we have a responsibility to ensure that the messages we put out are done so in a responsible way and will not harm brands or offend our readers.

Zoe Harris is group marketing director and head of invention at Trinity Mirror

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