Team: James Corne, Bob Edmiston, Geoff Kowalski, Jon Schultz
1) What is a brand? Why does Unilever want fewer of them?
A brand is the practical, emotional, or instinctual response that is stimulated in the brain by a product or company. Unilever wants fewer brands because it takes time, energy and resources to manage each brand. The more brands you brandish, the more resources you expend. In addition, brands compete with other brands for mental real estate in the customer’s mind. With an overcrowded brand portfolio, Unilever may be cannibalizing its product lines, or confusing customers.
2) What was Dove's brand positioning in the 1950s? Today?
In the 1950’s, Dove’s position was a functionally superior cleanser than soap, centered on science. Today, Dove is transforming into a lifestyle brand, centered on an emotional connection between consumer/product.
3) Organization and meaning of brand before 2000? after 2000?
Before 2000, Unilever’s brand management strategy was decentralized and cannibalistically capitalistic, pushing each brand manager to compete with in-house brands. After 2000, organizationally Dove sought to thin the herd and focus on building super-brands. Prior to 2000, the meaning of Dove was simple and aspirational: soap that would not dry your skin. After 2000, Dove used emotional stimulus to implant the product deep in the customers’ minds. Dove became a statement of who you are.
4) What are people saying about Dove today on blogs? What does this discussion contribute to the meaning of the brand?
Blog posts are largely positive. Most could be described as a form of marketing autopsy: an objective diagnosis of why the campaign worked, in hope of replicating. In terms of meaning, the case already covered the brand's transformation into a more emotionally bonding product. From what we read, this internet chatter solidifies the campaign's almost legendary status now.
5) Seth Stevenson calls Dove's brand move a "risky bet." How do you assess these critiques? Are they grounded in actual risk, or is Dove changing with the times?
The original use of “fast, cheap and out of control” came from a documentary film by that title, which was later taken by an MIT professor to grow into a new philosophy on marketing. The assertions that the Dove campaign was risky are obvious. Any campaign this bold is risky by nature. Axe, Geico, VW Volkswagen and Pepsi in the 1960’s, all ran risky campaigns. The question we think brand managers should be asking themselves today is “is your campaign risky enough?” The only legitimate risk we identified was debunking Dove as an "aspirational" brand. However, the "campaign for real beauty" did not debunk beauty. It did not tell women Dove soap will make you fat or ordinary, but that ordinary is beautiful. Dove modernized their brand by deepening the meaning of beauty, not abolishing it. The people who saw risk in this move did not or cannot understand that there are many forms of beauty. As far as control…control is paradoxical when…