Dove Super Bowl Spot Scores Initial Points With Men

When Unilever first announced it was launching its new Dove Men + Care line with a commercial during Super Bowl XLIV, industry watchers questioned whether making a costly, 30-second ad buy was the right strategy. It seems the move has paid off for Dove, at least, according to initial ad buzz results.

Prior to CBS’ broadcast of the Super Bowl, three of the most popular terms associated with Dove were “soap,” “beauty” and “deodorant.” But in the 24 hours following the game, the Dove spot, via Ogilvy & Mather, started generating terms like “Super Bowl,” “ad” and “men,” per Zeta Interactive, a New York City-based digital and interactive marketing agency. (The firm evaluated online consumer responses to the ads leading up to, during and following the Super Bowl.)

Dove’s “Journey to Comfort” ad for Men + Care ranked No. 11 on Zeta Interactive’s list of the top 15 Super Bowl commercials. The ad received a 76 percent positive tonal buzz, right behind Boost Mobile’s nostalgic “Boost Shuffle” (77 percent positive) and tied with Snickers’ “Betty White” (also 76 percent).

The change is significant given Dove’s stature as a juggernaut in the packaged goods beauty care space. In the U.S., Dove is the no. 1 personal wash brand, with products like Go Fresh Cool Moisture, Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash and Supreme Cream Oil Ultra Rich Velvet, per Unilever, which owns Dove. Since 2004, its advertising, too, has been heavily centered on Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, featuring real women with curvy figures.

The new ad targeting male consumers shows a man going through different stages of life. There is the conception and birth, childhood, the teenage years, and adulthood. “Now that you’re comfortable with who you are, isn’t it time for comfortable skin? At last, there’s Dove for Men,” the voiceover says. The spot ends with the tag, “Be comfortable in your own skin.”


Unilever on Monday launched an extension of that ad. It tapped Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints—the winning Super Bowl team—to star in a new digital campaign titled “Victory Shower.” The ad, filmed in advance of the game (with two possible outcomes), took over homepages on news sites like USAToday.com, CBSSports.com, YahooSports.com and FoxSports.com. It can also be viewed on DoveMenCare.com.

The packaged goods giant, which spent $153 million advertising Dove through the first 11 months of 2009, excluding online, per Nielsen, hopes to drive further buzz via viral efforts. “[It’s] an integral part of the Super Bowl experience,” said Unilever vp of skin, Kathy O’Brien. “[Dove] is using digital media and hyper-relevant content . . . to reach our target in a timely and credible way and extend our messaging beyond the game.”

But going forward, Unilever faces the classic problem of: “What happens when a brand has one personality, but tries to adopt another?” said Derek Rucker, an associate professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Rucker said Unilever has a good strategy, but he doesn’t think the creative execution held up. It’s not until halfway into the ad that the viewer realizes this is a commercial for Dove, and even then, there isn’t enough “emotional reason/point of difference that makes me feel that I want to adopt this product,” he said.

Bob Horowitz, president of Juma Entertainment, said Unilever did right in advertising Men + Care during the sports industry’s most watched event. And Dove’s history as a female-oriented brand might have helped more than hurt it. “The average football male fan will take a bathroom break or reach for the buffet table during the commercials,” Horowitz said. “They may see the Budweiser or Doritos spot, but it is the female viewer who is focused on the commercial break.”

Al DiGuido, CEO of Zeta Interactive, the firm that compiled the ad buzz results, said Dove’s Super Bowl buy clearly propelled it in the right direction. DiGuido added: “The question is whether or not they can sustain it.”