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Beauty & Personal Care

Dove Believes in Magic

1 May, 2011 By: Thomas Haire Response

Unilever’s Rob Candelino says Response Expo keynoter Earvin “Magic” Johnson helps the Dove Men+Care line extend its success across various direct response mediums.  


Earvin “Magic” Johnson, here on the set of the Dove Men+Care “Journey to Comfort” campaign, will open Response Expo 2011 in San Diego on May 3 with his inspiring and motivating message.

“We are committed to supporting Dove Men+Care with a marketing plan that grabs the attention of men in breakthrough ways,” says Rob Candelino, marketing director, Personal Wash U.S., at Unilever, parent company of Dove and its 15-month-old Men+Care line. “Direct response marketing enables us to really interact and engage with our consumers on three screens in a powerful way that drives our business.”

Most recently, that support included an extensive campaign centered around March’s NCAA basketball tournament, featuring current Georgetown University Coach John Thompson III, former Duke University star Bobby Hurley and — most resoundingly — basketball legend, business leader and Response Expo 2011 keynote speaker Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

“Everyone knows Magic Johnson as the celebrated NCAA and NBA icon, but we took a look at the man off the court and who he is with his family at home,” Candelino contends. “The ‘Journey to Comfort’ campaign seeks to show fans the off-the-court moments in a man’s life that make him comfortable with himself as a man. Moments like marriage, fatherhood and overcoming personal and professional adversity are universally relevant and relatable and offer a unique and previously unseen side of these top athletes.”

This is the second “Journey to Comfort” campaign for the Dove Men+Care brand — the first was centered on baseball stars last summer — since its launch in February 2010, with a spot during Super Bowl XLIV (Response, April 2010). The brand expects to launch a third “Journey to Comfort” campaign shortly, featuring well-known golfers, but the key to each campaign — from TV to online to mobile — Candelino contends, has been the same.

“For the ‘Journey to Comfort’ campaign, we are using a number of direct response tactics to reach our target male consumer, as well as the primary shopper, including mobile marketing, iAd, social media and sampling,” he says. “Through a global survey conducted by Unilever of men ages 30-55, we learned that men reach a point in their lives when they become comfortable with whom they are, but don’t have comfortable skin to match. Through different life experiences men become comfortable in their own skin. Dove Men+Care celebrates the unsung moments on a man’s journey to comfort and provides total skin comfort.”

Journey to a Winning Campaign

That journey has been directed by the 36-year-old Candelino, who has spent 13 years at Unilever since earning a bachelor’s degree in commerce at the University of Guelph in Canada. The native of St. Catherine’s, Ontario, has worked for the company in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States and oversees not only the Men+Care line, but also the Dove, Axe, Lever 2000, Suave and Caress brands.

Whether through TV commercials, Internet or social media like Twitter, the marketing for the Dove Men+Care line encourages consumers to be comfortable in their own skin at any stage of life.

“Prior to my current role, I worked at Unilever Global Headquarters in London, where I led the global rollout of a new priority innovation program,” says Candelino, married and soon to become a father.

Candelino is clearly loyal to the Unilever family, similar to how Johnson — who will greet Response Expo 2011 attendees at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3 — will forever be linked to the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. But Johnson told Inc. magazine in March that he’s also loyal to the Dove brand.

“I was already using the product before they called me,” he told Inc. “So this was a no-brainer for me to use (other) Dove Men+Care products because I was using the body wash and the deodorant already. That made it easier for me to go ahead and do the campaign because I was already excited about the products.”

Dove Men+Care’s initial marketing push started in early 2010 and was profiled in Response just more than a year ago. It began with the “Manthem” spot during Super Bowl XLIV, and a surrounding digital campaign that highlighted the eventual MVP of the game, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints. “When we launched Dove Men+Care in 2010, we realized that the Super Bowl was a great stage for building mass brand awareness,” Candelino says. “A commercial during that telecast provides the platform to entertain and engage a captive audience of over 100 million consumers — effectively reaching both men, our target consumer, and women, our primary shopper.”

The success of that initial campaign led to last summer’s baseball-themed “Journey to Comfort” campaign. “The first ‘Journey to Comfort’ launched featured the unsung moments of St. Louis Cardinals first-baseman Albert Pujols, New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte and New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi in a series of original online videos where they shared previously unseen moments from their lives off-the-field and how they became comfortable in their own skin,” Candelino says.

The experiences there, with TV, digital media, online video and social media led Unilever to expand “upon the powerful insight we had uncovered in the first iteration of the ‘Journey to Comfort’ campaign to make it even more impactful,” Candelino says. Fortunately for him, Unilever had recently entered into a corporate sponsorship deal with the NCAA, including promotional rights related to all 88 NCAA championship events across 23 men’s and women’s collegiate sports.

The first big event under that sponsorship just happened to be “March Madness,” the well-known nickname of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tournament. “The NCAA Tournament allowed the brand to connect with our guy — men, ages 38-50 — in a fresh, new way during a three-week event where he is already engaged. We know men 25-54 are 57-percent more likely to watch the NCAA Tournament than the average adult,” Candelino says.

Basketball Mixed with New Media

This iteration of the “Journey to Comfort” campaign features Johnson, Hurley and Thompson discussing “their personal journeys to comfort both on and off the court,” according to Candelino. Each man’s story came to life in a series of commercials that aired during NCAA men’s basketball tournament broadcasts across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.

“The commercials reached our guy in a hyper-relevant way as he watched the tournament,” Candelino contends. “The first phase of this campaign was also supported by a 360-degree campaign with not only advertising but also, public relations, promotions, mobile, digital and social media.”

In the “Journey to Comfort” campaign, Johnson openly discusses his formative years, his collegiate experience and his current home life.

Candelino calls the trio of basketball greats “men who our target guy relates to,” and lauds their “strong tie to NCAA men’s basketball.” He adds, “Magic Johnson played in one of the greatest championship games ever and went on to become an NBA icon, but after his HIV diagnosis, forged a new identity for himself as an entrepreneur. What sets Magic apart for us is what he has accomplished off the court as a family man and as an entrepreneur. After retiring from the NBA, he built an illustrious career at the forefront of urban development, raising the understanding of the importance of the multicultural consumer and bolstering the economy by establishing brand name businesses in underserved communities. He is also a dedicated philanthropist and devoted husband and father.”

While the personalities help drive the campaign, the science behind it has its roots in the tenets of direct response measurability and engagement. All TV ads drove viewers to, where consumers could watch extended videos of the basketball stars, join the Trivia Timeout sweepstakes to win prizes including tickets to the 2012 NCAA Final Four, and even download a $1 off coupon to buy the line’s products at retail. The push — which included the original Dove Men+Care line of body wash, antiperspirants and deodorants, plus the new Sensitive Clean Body and Face Wash — didn’t stop there.

“Providing mobile access to Dove Men+Care’s NCAA content was critical for the brand to take advantage of consumers engaging with the tournament on two-screens,” Candelino says. “The Dove Men+Care mobile site ( was refreshed to provide mobile users access to Trivia Timeout and the ‘Journey to Comfort’ vignettes from Johnson, Hurley and Thompson.”

He adds that Unilever’s research proves just how important mobile marketing is among the Men+Care target audience. “The Men+Care target consumer regularly utilizes mobile devices — including smartphones and tablets — for both information and utilities,” Candelino says.

The company is also a major believer in Apple’s iAd platform. “As one of the first brands to have the opportunity to utilize this platform, we felt it was a perfect fit to help launch our first Dove Men+Care ‘Journey to Comfort’ campaign (in 2010),” Candelino says. “The first iAd was very successful, generating great user engagement. The NCAA version of the Dove Men+Care iAd, released on March 14, was the first ever iAd to be featured on the iPad.”

Unilever also included a vast social media component in the “Journey to Comfort” campaign. “We leveraged social media to target men and women with timely, relevant content about the NCAA Tournament and from the campaign,” Candelino says. “We were excited to launch the @DoveMenCare Twitter handle to directly engage our male fans with updates about NCAA Tournament, including game highlights, recaps, team match-ups and trivia.”

Dove Men+Care’s initial marketing push for the “Journey to Comfort” campaign started in 2010 and included a variety of Dove Men+Care body wash, antiperspirant and deodorant products.

Facebook and YouTube were also crucial to Unilever’s attempts to engage shoppers. “We shared ‘Journey to Comfort’ videos and messages through our Facebook page,” he says. “Additionally, all ‘Journey to Comfort’ videos are available on our YouTube Channel.”

Candelino also credits Johnson’s Twitter efforts for helping promote the campaign. “Additionally, Magic’s robust social media following coupled with the active commentary he tweeted to our hash tag (#mencare) brought timely, relevant content that our guy really cared about,” he says.

Pulling out the Driver

Candelino says the success of the NCAA “Journey to Comfort” campaign has led to plans for a third version of the concept, featuring professional golfers Stewart Cink, 2009 U.S. Open champion, and Davis Love III, 1997 PGA champion and captain of the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

There have been minor tweaks to the campaign as a result of the transition from basketball to golf. “For the launch of the golf program, we have created a ‘Tournament to Comfort’ golf game at and on the mobile site” Candelino says. “Golfers will be able to play different holes from renowned golf courses around the world for a chance to win golf-related prizes. Fans that do not try their hand at digital golf can win prizes simply by following @DoveMenCare on Twitter.”

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