Dove’s Campaign For Real Benjamins

7 07 2008

Social media reminds me of a Freshman-year high school mixer.

Imagine eager brands on one side of the room, mostly staring at the floor but occasionally casting furtive glances across the dance floor. On the other side, blushing consumers glance back. And then…

OMG! My brand sparked a conversation! Now what do I do?!?

What happens when a bold brand actually gets up the nerve to ask a consumer to dance, and the consumer says “yes”? Now they’re both stuck in the middle of the dance floor, with two questions:

  • “What, exactly, are we supposed to do now?
  • More importantly, where is it OK — or not OK — to put our hands?”

According to today’s New York Times, Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty is “faltering because consumers do not connect its products to the cause.” Uh-oh. So last week, Dove launched a TV commercial that boils down to “buy our soap, and we’ll support the Dove Self-Esteem Fund”.

What happens to the quality of the conversation as Dove shifts from the moral high ground to someplace a whole lot closer to the cash register? Will things get awkward on the way?

Can the brand quietly end the conversation and look for one that pays better? Or will people who were enjoying that conversation feel rejected — and be vocal about it?

Unilever is a smart company, and very skilled at cause-related marketing. Still, this is a very high-profile campaign on a sensitive subject.

What do you think of what Dove is doing? What would you do differently, if you were in their shoes (or soap dish)?

Let me know if you predict success, or trouble ahead.


Clipper Comeback: Coupons Revived, More Digital Than Ever

7 07 2008

A new article in the Chicago Tribune says that after sixteen straight years of declining redemptions, coupons are back.

Digital skews younger and has higher redemption rates. And a new Google AdSense-like functionality called “Brandcaster” may change the game further.

Read the full article here. Some highlights:

  • “Huge leap” at Coupons Inc. starting last September. They also recently unveiled “Brandcaster“, which applies contextual targeting to couponing, e.g. someone reading online about healthy food might see a coupon for organic milk. General Mills, Kimberly-Clark. and Kraft are all trying this.
  • “Anything you can do by point and click, we’re more likely to do,” said 23 year old college student Ariel Redmon. She looks for online coupons, checking out blogs and sites devoted to coupon deals.
  • “It’s really easy (…) if you’re at a computer all day,” said 32 year old mom Julia Kozlov, who uses mainly online coupons
  • Digital coupons tend to have much higher usage rates than traditional paper coupons.
  • Both P&G and Unilever have teamed with Kroger to offer paperless coupons online.
  • Kroger is testing coupons via texting to cellphones through Cellfire.

I’m particularly fascinated by Brandcaster, and surprised I hadn’t heard of this until now. Targeting coupons based on interests should work incredibly well. (See Greg Sterling’s take on this here.) I would also tend to think it’s more likely to generate new trial than a coupon on a brand website. Does anybody out there know?

UPDATE 12/16/08: Some surprising tidbiits from a new study from Packaged Facts, from Media Post today:

  • Richer families use more coupons. Households earning $75,000+  are more active coupon users (71%) than households earning less than $25,000.
  • Usage is highest among those working in such white-collar functions as management, finance and administration.
  • Smaller households use coupons more than larger ones. Two-person households use more coupons than those with three or four people, and those with five or more people are least likely of all to use coupons.
  • Baby Boomers are more likely to use coupons to experiment with a new product: 12% more likely than average to sample new products this way.  This definitely seems to argue against the conventional wisdom that older people are less likely to change behavior.

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