FrankandPat

April 23, 2008

Unilever Switches Off Dove Forums

Filed under: brand, community, dove, unilever — Tags: , , , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 9:18 pm

I had a reply to my last post from Jamie who is the web editor for Greenpeace, saying that ever since Greenpeace launched their campaign the forums on Dove’s ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ site have been closed.

COME ON UNILEVER!!!

Engage positively!!!

This is lame and you’re looking like fools.

This smacks of the fake blogging incident by L’Oreal brand Vichy who failed to understand (at first) how to engage with this level of digital subversion. L’Oreal turned it round by positively engaging with the blogging community to create a dialogue.

Unilever have put up their rather un-inspiring, dry, content free retort and are putting their fingers in their ears and saying la la la. I think they might be sitting up there in Unilever Towers looking out the window saying things like “Have they gone yet?” or “Today’s news is tomorrow’s chip wrapping.”

Silly Unilever.

Well done Greenpeace.

It’d be great if you could look at some other ecologically naughty brands / campaigns and entertain us all with some more highlighted irony to deliver important messages.

Beauty? It’s what’s on the inside that counts. What’s inside Dove is ugly.

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Unilever’s ‘digital reaction’ to Greenpeace Protest

Filed under: brand, community, dove, unilever, user generated content, video — Tags: , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 12:30 pm

By Warren Hutchinson

The Greenpeace Orang-Utan’s struck Unilever on Monday and within an hour the blogosphere was rampant with rampaging Orang-Utans, videos, images, stories.

As ever ‘Transparency Tyranny‘ is rife and digital is the driving nemesis of corporation x.

What are Unilever doing in response? And how are they going to engage in this digital onslaught, this citizen journalist propagation and ironic spin of ‘real beauty’?

I’m really interested in the strategy behind all of this and how it unfolds. In the inception of the ‘campaign for real beauty’ I wonder if they thought about defensive strategies should stories (which they MUST have suspected) such as this emerge.

On the Unilever site there is a front page news item titled ‘Sustainable Palm Oil’. Click through and you see a video from their SVP of Communications and Sustainability starting with a statement that:

“We have great sympathy with what Greenpeace are trying to achieve, they are drawing attention to a really important issue” – Gavin Neath, SVP Communications and Sustainability

I find the role of SVP ‘Communications’ (Spin) and ‘Sustainability’ incongruous, but that’s another issue.

Unilever's News Page

Unilever are part of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, or RSPO for short, and unsurprisingly they are playing up to this. Unilever claim to be instrumental in setting up the roundtable for sustainable palm and carrying it forward.

The transcript can be found here.

The response is a step, I’d rather see something directly relating and acknowledging the Greenpeace efforts, an alignment of sorts. They are playing it down, but not explicitly responding.

The ‘Dove in the News’ site is even wetter. Dove is all over the news, but it is not showing here.

Cue fingers in the ears – “la la la”:

Dove's News Page

The problem is, in order to hear Unilever’s point of view you have to mobilise yourself to go and see their site, navigate and watch a polished corporate video.

I can’t, yet, find any level of engagement by Unilever with the user-generated, mobilised, chatteriffic sphere of blogs, video sites and social networks. Searches for ‘Greenpeace, Unilever, Palm Oil’ only result in links to sites siding with the Greenpeace effort and not Unilever.

Designing a strategy for organic search traffic is required or else people will simply miss Unilever’s point.

I had a quick scan through the Facebook groups and found lots of Unilever corporate groups for ‘Graduates’ and ‘Management Schemes’ but UNSURPRISINGLY I found the Facebook group ‘Dove: Not so clean’.

Okay – it has 12 members so far.

Corporations are really uncomfortable with this stuff and they continue to ignore dealing with it.

And in closing, the final statement by the interviewer:

“Gavin Neath – thank you very much indeed”

smells horribly corporate and reeks of Aunty (The BBC for non-UK readers).

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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