Dove Super Bowl Play Scores With Men

When Unilever first disclosed 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 buy was the right strategy.

Now, 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 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 ad for Men + Care ranked No. 11 on Zeta Interactive’s list of the top 15 Super Bowl commercials. The spot received a 76 percent positive score, tied with Snickers’ more high-profile commercial starring aging sitcom actors Abe Vigoda and Betty White.

The Super Bowl performance is significant given Dove’s attempt to transform and broaden its brand message to widen its overall appeal.

The new ad targeting male consumers shows a man going through different stages of life: birth, childhood, 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 quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints — the winning Super Bowl team — to star in a new digital push titled “Victory Shower.” The ad, filmed in advance of the game (with two possible outcomes), took over home pages on sites like,, and It can also be viewed on

Unilever, which spent $153 million advertising Dove through the first 11 months of 2009, 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.”

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 [or] 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, said Dove’s Super Bowl buy clearly propelled it in the right direction. “The question is whether or not they can sustain it,” he said.