Unilever has hired independent agency BBD Perfect Storm to develop the global proposition for male grooming brand Dove Men+Care.
The Dove Men+Care ad account is currently held by WPP-owned Ogilvy, which will continue to work on the creative.
The decision to hire an independent agency comes despite Unilever chief executive Alan Jope saying he expected groups such as WPP to find the "expertise and talent" to solve its problems within their businesses.
Unilever is moving away from having direct relationships with agencies in the big groups in favour of working with the holding company directly.
BBD Perfect Storm won the brief through New Macho, its male marketing strategy unit, which will lead the project.
New Macho will seek to ensure Dove Men+Care continues to connect with its target audience as the definition and narrative around masculinity evolves.
Fernando Desouches, the managing director at New Macho, previously worked at Unilever for 18 years. He was senior global brand development director at Lynx (Axe outside the UK and Ireland) between 2013 and 2017 and worked on Dove before then.
Many men’s brands have attempted to reposition themselves to reflect a more modern form of masculinity. Since 2016 Lynx has tried to promote the idea of being self-confident through campaigns such as "Find your magic".
In January Desouches wrote of how Unilever rival Procter & Gamble fell into the "progressive man" trap for its controversial Gillette campaign, which tried to take aim at toxic masculinity.
Carlos Gil, global vice-president of Dove Men+Care at Unilever, said: "As we look toward its next decade, we want the brand to play a key role in the discussion and narrative around men and masculinity. If Dove Men+Care is to maintain its business performance we need to understand where men are heading to, as well as how the brand can facilitate this progress.
"We were really impressed by New Macho’s ability to synthesise our thinking as we inject a fresh creative direction into the brand’s positioning."
The appointment comes as Unilever seeks to ensure all its brands have a strong purpose. Jope has said Unilever will look to dispose of any brands that cannot find their purpose.
Over half of Unilever’s turnover comes from brands it considers to be purpose-led, according to the company.
Desouches said: "It is a privilege to support the strategic evolution of Dove, an advanced and sophisticated brand as it pioneers the sensitive territories around masculine stereotypes, gender balance and inclusivity.
"Marketers have a responsibility to consider their brands' role in society and Dove Men+Care is leading this."
Since launching in 2010, Dove Men+Care has aimed to promote an inclusive vision of masculinity, using "care" as a platform to champion what it means to be a man.
BBD Perfect Storm’s work will inform the 2020 global brand and creative direction.