FrankandPat

April 23, 2008

Greenpeace Protest at Unilever London

Filed under: brand, dove, unilever — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 12:30 pm

By Warren Hutchinson

Only last week I was having a conversation with one of the brains behind the new LBi Quarterly called LBiQ about the Dove campaign that gave Unilever permission to engage with audiences as an authority of ‘real beauty’.

We debated the merits of Dove’s ‘campaign for real beauty’ and how a good old fashioned campaign can bring new light to an otherwise dying entity even in today’s ultra transparent web 2-oh world.

Recruiting ‘real women’ from London streets, using portrait photographer Rankin to shoot the images and celebrating 95% of the female population as having a normal figure, it was a good idea well executed.

Well, today as I was crossing Blackfriars Bridge in London on my way to work in Clerkenwell I saw that Unilever’s London HQ had become besieged by Orang-Utans in protest about the beauty line’s impact on wildlife via the extraction of palm oil in rain forests.

In the words of the Temptations;’…beauty’s is only skin deep yeah yeah yeah‘.

The protest coincides with a released Greenpeace report called Burning Up Borneo which reports on a link between Unilever’s relationship with palm oil extraction companies and the destruction of Orang-Utan habitats. Apparetly 80% of Orang-Utan habitat has been destroyed in 20 years.

More here from Orang-Utan Outreach if you are interested in the plight of ginger monkeys (I know, I know).

Also, good video here from the BBC.

Do you know which of your household products use palm oil? Or where it comes from?

Personally, I haven’t a clue.

It’s used in cleaning products, fabric conditioner, margarine, soap and a whole host of cosmetics. It’s also used as a crop for bio-fuels, so demand for it is going up.

However, it’s further proof that in beauty terms it’s what is on the inside that counts.

Anyway, here are some pics I snapped on my mobile:

Greenpeace Protest @ Unilever London

Greenpeace Protest @ Unilever London[01]

Greenpeace Protest @ Unilever London

Greenpeace Protest @ Unilever London[03]

Greenpeace Protest @ Unilever London

Apparently, the protest was staged simultaneously at various Unilever sites in London and Merseyside with some protesters gaining access to the factory on the Wirral.

After good work from Ogilvy & Mather on the concept in 2004, this kind of communication/brand strategy is always open to subversion in this way. I’m expecting Howard Sheldon from the Halifax ads to have some dark financial past secret exposed at sometime bringing his personal equity and thus Halifax brand integrity down like a house of cards.

I find it ironic that the concept of ‘real beauty’ is being subverted by something that is entirely un-beautiful. Okay, the sorrowful near-human gaze of an Orang-Utan’s face aid in the sympathy somewhat, but ultimately my take away was ‘Dove products are responsible for dying Orang-Utans’.

Yes, my takeaway.

Interestingly, most of the coverage of this protest that I have seen centres on Unilever and not the Dove brand so the Dove ‘campaign for real beauty’ might get away with it unscathed.

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