Dove has grown from a US-only soap bar into one of Unilever's biggest global brands, covering multiple beauty segments including facial cleansing, body wash, skincare, haircare, deodorants and more. From unpromising beginnings after the Second World War as a soap for soldiers that would lather in salt water, it has grown - following the addition of cold cream's stearic acid in the 1950s - into the world's #1 personal cleansing product, and the #3 business in the Anglo-Dutch company's portfolio behind Knorr and Lipton. During the 1990s, Unilever began to extend the brand across the complete personal care spectrum, and Dove now encompasses a vast range of different products. Dove has attracted widespread media attention since 2004 for its marketing. That year, Ogilvy & Mather launched a series of ads for Dove portraying the "real beauty" of ordinary women. These proved enormously popular and influential and were quickly rolled out globally. Dove Men+Care expanded the brand into male grooming for the first time in 2010, followed by Baby Dove in 2017. According to AdAge/Kantar adex figures, Dove has been Unilever's highest-spending brand in the US for several years, with measured media expenditure regularly double or more any other group brand. The same is true in most developed markets worldwide, though Dove is less widely marketed in emerging territories. Sophie van Ettinger is global VP for the Dove masterbrand, based in London, reporting to Sunny Jain, president of global beauty & personal care.
Capsule checked 18th May 2020
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Who are the competitors of Dove? Dove competes fiercely with Procter & Gamble's Olay, Beiersdorf's Nivea and Johnson & Johnson's Neutrogena, all of which have a similarly broad product range. See Personal Care Sector index for other companies and brands
Historical profile information for Dove
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Aug 2018: Ads Of The Week "I'm Fine". Here's a completely new approach from Ogilvy UK for Dove, produced globally in partnership with Cartoon Network. We're already familiar with Dove's well-established goal of promoting self-esteem among women. In an admirable new initiative, this latest campaign targets perhaps the hardest to reach and also most vulnerable demographic of teenage girls, using animated sequences to embody their innermost fears and concerns. Anyone with a teenage daughter of their own will be familiar with that blank "I'm fine" response, and the ensuing worry that there is more to it than that. Inevitably, social media envy plays a significant role. Here's the first of what will eventually be four films, in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, for Dove's main global markets.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th October 2017: Unilever kicked open a hornet's nest with a three-second digital ad for Dove cleansers, perceived by some viewers as racist. The ad showed a black girl pulling a t-shirt over her head to transform into a white girl, who then pulls off her own shirt to reveal an Indian or Asian girl. Most objective viewers would probably not see this as any sort of deliberate ethnic slur given the appearance of an Indian girl as the third "reveal". However online critics omitted that part of the sequence from their screen grabs, all the better to support their accusations of "whitewashing". Yet whoever signed off the ad at Unilever is guilty of stupidity at the very least. Surely somebody must have seen the potential for trouble here. Though few serious commentators actually accused Unilever of racism, they have quite fairly seized upon the ad as being symptomatic of racial insensitivity within the industry, reflecting the comparative shortage of marketing staffers from ethnic minorities. "Hire more black and brown people," producer Amalia Nicholson told Adweek, "It's really that simple." No one has admitted direct responsibility for the ad, but it is thought to have been produced inhouse rather than by global agency Ogilvy. "The video was intended to convey that Dove body wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity, but we got it wrong," said a Unilever spokesperson. "We apologize deeply and sincerely for the offense that it has caused and do not condone any activity or imagery that insults any audience."
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Jun 2016: Ads Of The Week "My Beauty My Say". Ogilvy & Mather's latest global ad for Dove adopts a more aggressive stance than usual, perhaps to stand above the myriad other campaigns that have joined the self-esteem bandwagon over the past decade. Whereas previous ads in Dove's long-running campaign have tended to pick over the nature of female self-perception, this latest offers no apologies or doubt or explanation. "I am what I am," these women argue. "Deal with it." Nicely done.
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Sept 2015: Ads Of The Week "Change One Thing". Here's the excellent new installment in Unilever's still-impressive "Campaign for Real Beauty" for Dove. This latest actually comes from viral shop Evidently rather than main agency Ogilvy, and follows a clever circular route mapped by a succession of girls suggesting the one thing they would change about themselves... which is of course the one thing another girl wishes she had. Truth is, you're never happy with what you've got.
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Apr 2015: Ads Of The Week "Choose Beautiful". A definite return to form for the latest instalment of Ogilvy's Real Beauty campaign for Dove, after a couple of damp squibs. This one was led by Ogilvy's Chicago office. Women in several cities all over the world were offered the choice between entering a building through the door marked "Beautiful" or one marked "Average". Almost all chose the latter, and were asked to talk about why that was. Very interesting, touching and human.
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