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Beauty & Personal Care

Dove Goes Direct After Men

8 Apr, 2010 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response

The leading personal care brand, most often associated with women, takes aim at the male marketplace with a strong multi-channel effort, says Kathy O’Brien.


Kathy O'BrienIn February, Dove, the personal care brand known nationwide as the No. 1 wash brand, launched Men+Care, its first-ever product line formulated specifically for men. Dove, manufactured by Unilever, aimed the new line at men who are comfortable with themselves, but not in their skin, while celebrating unsung moments along the journey to comfort.

Where best to launch this idea than in a spot during Super Bowl XLIV. The 45-second commercial is a montage of scenes — set to the “William Tell Overture” — depicting men who have reached a point in their lives when they are comfortable with themselves, but not in their skin. After the launch, the commercial went on to air in several media roundups and the brand invited consumers on Twitter and Facebook to participate in the campaign by sending in their “unsung moments” via photo, video or text.

Although a men’s line is new for Dove, the brand is no stranger to consumers in the U.S. In fact, one in every three households in the U.S. uses a Dove product, which includes beauty bars, body washes, deodorants, hair care and more.

Also no stranger to the brand is Kathy O’Brien, the vice president of marketing for personal care at Unilever for the United States — also known as vice president of skin — who has been with the company for 20 years. Working out of the Unilever North American headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., she is responsible for marketing efforts across brands like Dove, AXE, Caress, Lever 2000, Suave, Vaseline, Pond’s, Q-tips, Degree and Sunsilk.

Prior to her current role, O’Brien served as marketing director for Dove, where she was responsible for building brand equity and executing brand activation plans nationwide. Before that, she spent three years as the North American brand development director for “all” detergent. During her tenure with Unilever, O’Brien has had the opportunity to move between groups and gain a greater understanding across disciplines.

“I made the move from sales to brand marketing and loved it,” she says. “I felt like the work was not only interesting, but challenging. I enjoyed what I was doing so much that I turned down an opportunity in sales to stay in brand marketing. No two days are the same — I knew I would never be bored.”

An Integrated Approach

Integrating direct response marketing campaigns into brand awareness was a no-brainer for O’Brien and Dove, as Unilever bases its foundation of success on world-class innovation and consumer insight — listening and understanding consumers’ needs and developing products to meet them. “Any time we can build programs that engage direct with consumers, that only sets us up for more success.” O’Brien adds, “None of our campaigns can rely on one type of engagement. We rely on various communication vehicles including advertising, public relations, Web sites, events, films, social media and more.”

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