Unilever To Unveil Dove Ad Winner During Oscars

Consumer-made ads may have seen their heyday, but Unilever's Dove brand is letting consumers pitch Dove Supreme Cream Oil Body Wash in a new effort to break during the Oscars next year.

The company ran consumer-generated ads during the Oscars this year to support its "Real Women" ad campaign and its associated "Campaign for Real Beauty" that launched in 2005 with ads showing real women (versus airbrushed models) posing in their underwear, along with PR efforts to broaden ideas of what constitutes beauty.

For the forthcoming Oscars broadcast, Dove is adding a new spin: This time around, consumers will not only make the ads--based on how they "shower themselves with luxury every day--but will also vote on which of the five semifinalists should win. The votes will be tallied in real-time, on Feb. 24, the day of the Oscars. The winning ad will run during the ABC broadcast of the Oscars.

Viewers can vote by texting or by going to Oscar.com, with the winner to be revealed live during a commercial break during The Oscars.



"Private Practice" star Amy Brenneman is pitching the promotion with sample ads she created, at dovecreamoil.com, where women will be able to submit their entries. The site will also host the winning ads from the last Oscars campaign, as well as rules, tutorials and editing tools for making ads.

The company says all of the initial submissions will be screened by a judging panel, which will choose the five semifinalists. They will receive an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles, plus tickets to an Oscar telecast viewing party.

Kathy O'Brien, Dove marketing director, says the campaign will be supported through print, online advertisements, public relations and grassroots outreach, to draw attention to the entry process and the live voting element.

O'Brien says last year's campaign leading up to the Oscars resulted in over 1.5 million people visiting the official entry site at dovecreamoil.com, and the company got more than 1,200 ad submissions.

"The entries we received proved that real women understand and embrace the brand's core mission to help more women feel beautiful ... by widening the narrow stereotypical views of beauty." She adds that over 4.5 million people worldwide have logged onto campaignforrealbeauty.com.

"We will continue to feature women who show beauty goes beyond the stereotypical standards regularly presented in the media and pop culture through the Campaign for Real Beauty," she says, adding that the Dove Self Esteem Fund has set a goal to reach five million girls globally with self-esteem programming.

Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys, Inc., says consumer-generated content is risky. "When Dove and Unilever controlled the creative, they really owned a particular strategic high ground," he argues. "But the minute you open it up to 'commentary--even with screening--it becomes something less than a campaign and something more like social networking. To a certain degree commercial communication--both information and persuasion--is the counterpoint to consumer confession."

O'Brien says the effort is aligned with what Dove's brand equity. "Dove has always been about real women," she says. "For several years, we have been using an advertising format known as 'real women testimonials.' The Campaign for Real Beauty positioning ... is a natural evolution of the brand's heritage."

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