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Dove’s evolution is the last of its kind

June 24, 2007

At this year’s Cannes Lions, jury wanted to show the world of advertising has changed, so they and gave the Grand Prix to Dove’s Evolution spot.

The effort was rewarded for two reasons:

1.    It shows that there’s life beyond the 30sec television spot.

2.    It demonstrates the importance and power of corporate social responsibility. It’s not just a statement, it’s an action; Dove isn’t just commenting on the state of women and beauty, it’s actively trying to do something about it.

The problem is that the media world has changed so dramatically in the last 6 months that it might be impossible for a brand to replicate the success of Dove. The ad was truly viral; it was even seeded by the writer directly on YouTube and took off from there.

So what’s changed?

1.    Everyone’s doing it- YouTube is a changed environment with hundreds of advertisers and entertainment companies all competing for attention alongside user generated content.

2.    Viral media has become a commercialized industry where you have to pay the big bucks to get success. There are commercial seeding companies who you pay to get the word out and YouTube has now become a fully-fledged media company. You can now buy viral success by running your ad on the front page of the site, but it will cost you $60-$80,000 a day to do.

Dove was a pioneer in this space and was rightly awarded for its efforts, but brands looking to replicate the success of Unilever’s brand are going to find it tough. Unilever loved the case because it turned a $50,000 investment into tens of millions of dollars of media coverage.

That’s the potency of the story and the bit that every client likes and salivates over. The problem is that it’s not going to be easy to achieve any more because of a radical shift in the economics.

If your brand is brave and gutsy enough to get behind a powerful and challenging socio-cultural idea, execute with creative brilliance and support it with a smart CSR program, you will get people to pay attention, but it’s unlikley you will be able to do it for $50k.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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