Dove Case

Dove’s Advertising Campaign Highs and Lows: From Real Beauty to Real Success to Real Controversy

Bradley Brooks, Queens University of Charlotte, Dawn Chanland, Queens University of Charlotte , Steven Cox, Queens University of Charlotte
January 12, 2021
North America
Marketing & Sales
17 pages
marketing, Branding, Racial Sensitivity, Social Comparison Theory
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.69)
Average rating: 

For years as Unilever’s brand director of skin cleansing, Jennifer Bremner, had enjoyed Dove’s tremendous brand success as it sought to redefine the definition of feminine beauty. A 2017 Dove body wash promotion, however, attracted more than mere attention — to the point of igniting a racial firestorm. Consumers expressed outrage against Dove with online accusations that the brand promoted racial hatred and bigotry. The brand was confronting calls for boycotts with escalating consumer hostility and national media featured stories about the controversy that threatened the brand. Having been recently promoted based on her Dove brand leadership, Bremner mused over how the carefully built brand loyalty and sales might be damaged.

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Evaluate the use of social comparison theory in promotional campaigns.
  2. Recognize and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of adapting culturally specific promotions as a means to build a strong brand.
  3. Develop a rationale for the changes in the portrayal of African Americans in advertisements over the past century.
  4. Evaluate why a promotion that offends customers can affect sales using Lee, Motion & Conroy’s work (2009) on brand avoidance.
  5. Analyze the effectives of Dove’s Real Beauty promotional campaign in reaching a female target market utilizing Keller’s (2001) Customer-Based Brand Equity theories.
  6. Evaluate the effects of this campaign on Dove’s branding based on Aaker’s theories on brand assets and liabilities.
  7. Recommend a set of strategies for a company with a consumer brand that has successfully built emotional connections with its target market but is facing negative consumer emotions after its latest promotion.