13 Years in the Making – Dove’s #RealBeauty Campaign

13 Years in the Making – Dove’s #RealBeauty Campaign

The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. – Audrey Hepburn

How many times have Dove sparked outrage with a campaign? 3? Maybe 5? To be perfectly honest, I think the majority of us have lost count now. Dove is hardly the first marketer to find itself embroiled in a public relations crisis this year,  but experts say that their most recent mishaps have placed them alongside the biggest brand crises of 2017 (with tough competition from Pepsi and United). The real question is, how much longer can Dove keep up the campaign for ‘Real Beauty’ before they lose their entire following?

It has now been 13 years since the exhibition opened, and it can be said that the ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’  is one of modern marketing’s most talked-about success stories. The campaign has expanded from billboards to television ads and online videos. The 2006 video, ‘Evolution’ went viral before “viral” was even a thing, (after all, YouTube had only launched the year before). Also, Dove’s 2013 ‘Real Beauty Sketches’, which shows women describing their appearances to a forensic sketch artist, became the most-watched video ad of all time (can be viewed below).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk

 

However, many of these campaigns have received public backlash. One of the most recent controversial issue comes from a social media outcry over an advertisement for Dove body wash which showed a black woman removing her top to reveal a white woman. This has understandably escalated into a public relations disaster for the Unilever brand.

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The 3-second video clip, posted on Dove’s U.S. Facebook page in October, reminded some social media users of racist soap adverts from the 19th century or early 20th century that showed black people scrubbing their skin to become white. Resulting in a worldwide #BoycottDove trend. If this was the first time Dove was accused for being racist, the recovery process would be a lot simpler. However a previous Dove ad, which showed three women side by side in front of a before-and-after image of cracked and smooth skin, caused an uproar in 2011 because the woman positioned on the “before” side was black while the “after” woman was white.

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I could go on with more major examples of public relations crisis but I think we can all see a reoccurring theme here…

So why are these campaigns upsetting so many women?

Maybe the idea of change isn’t what Dove should be focusing on. Not everyone agrees with the importance the campaign places on physical beauty. It indicates to women that when it comes to evaluating ourselves and other women, beauty is paramount. Also, just because women are defining beauty, do they actually feel different about themselves? An estimated 80 percent of American women feel dissatisfied with their bodies, and 81 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of becoming “fat.” Can a series of ad campaigns really change institutionalised body hatred?

Most likely not. I can see how this message of beauty can be seen as problematic to some individuals, but until we get to a point in culture where the dominant messages about girls and women are not focused on their physical bodies, then we do need to actually reaffirm a broader and more innate, internal definition of what beauty is. For me, we are still nowhere near that point.

When I think of Dove products, I think of plain, white and simple soap. In my opinion, the fact that Dove have associated their brand with influencing men and women worldwide to think about the narrow definitions of female beauty is admirable.

Despite the controversy, this Real Beauty public relations campaign has been honoured several times as one of the best campaigns in recent history. It has won a handful (or two) of ad awards and has sold an enormous amount of product.  Sales have increased to $4 billion today from $2.5 billion in its opening campaign year. If that wasn’t enough, research from a Harvard psychologist, Nancy Etcoff, examining the campaign then and now found that more women today describe beauty on a wider variety of qualities outside of just looks, such as confidence. Quite an achievement for a controversial public relations campaign if you ask me!

I believe each of the campaigns success is based on the eye of the perceiver, and my eye… loves them. I can honestly say that as I went through watching ‘Sketches’ and ‘Speak is Beautiful’, I was moved to tears. ‘Evolution’ in particular struck a chord for me at the young age of 11, opening my eyes to the narrow definitions of beauty I was growing up with and the way images were manipulated to fit ideals. You can watch Evolution by clicking on the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U

Are Dove using public relations effectively to maximise their success?

One thing for sure; Dove often have a good strategy, but poor execution. They need to be able to anticipate cultural points of view and reactions that their campaigns will generate. In the reality of the competitive world we now operate in, it is evident that consumer mobs can quickly jump on a misguided conception and cause it to escalate far beyond the brand’s control. This is why PR professionals should have a responsibility to see how a campaign can be construed through multiple lenses, from various audience segments through to the media.

Dove is targeting a diverse market, yet the lack of diverse thinking is becoming apparent. Their intent is not the subject that should be questioned, maybe it is their approval process.

Whether you critique or champion the ongoing Real Beauty campaign, it is difficult to argue with the results and the goals of inspiring women and girls to reach their full potential through building a positive self-esteem.

Ultimately, Dove was — and still is — one of the only mainstream advertisers talking about how we define female beauty. Personally, I don’t know what beauty is, but I do know you are more beautiful than you think.

So I will leave you with this… in Dove’s situation, is all publicity good publicity? 

Chloe Stewart is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. You can follow her on Twitter @ChloeStewart8 or reach out on LinkedIn at  https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-stewart-007150a4/

 

 

Has PR lost all Credibility in 2018?

The term PR can unsurprisingly evoke a feeling of doubt in people’s minds. PR can be seen as way the media twist the truth in an attempt to deliver a certain message. The element of persuasion can sometimes overshadow judgement and cast a damaging light on PR. However this is not the case, PR today has emerged significantly from what people may relate it back to as propaganda. People are quick to criticise PR due to reports that PR shys away from persuasion as a form of propaganda as it can be argued that the purpose of PR is to manipulate opinions. In discovering the elements of professional and reliable information people can soon realise the credit associated through PR. The progress through the years proves that PR has become more credible through their relevant and trustworthy news sources.

 

It seems that anytime I tell someone I am doing a PR degree they recognise it as standing on street corners promoting clubs or creating publicly stunts for good advertising. It is not uncommon that PR can be misinterpreted as a means to sell or exploit. Fortunately this isn’t the case, PR has a lot more than just promotion and publicity stunts. One of the more famous stunts being the white Range Rover outside Harrods in 2016, which tactically used PR and advertising to promote their brand image for the new Revere Range Rover Vogue.

People often question what is PR and why is it needed. The PRCA describe PR as the way in which organisations communicate with the public, promote themselves and build reputation and public image (Prca.org.uk, 2017). PR is in fact the back bone to organisations positively communicating key messages to consumers. Every organisation no matter who small depends on their reputation therefore PR is needed to promote survival and success in the most competitive of industries.
The world of PR is chaotic and crazy but for all the right reasons. The PR industry invites you to experience things you never imagined and learn things you never knew. Credibility is merely a small element of PR that is unfortunately sometimes negatively portrayed. Influencers and brand ambassadors create the perfect platform for organisations to promote their brand messages to their target audience and building upon their reputation. Aristotle used the term Ethos throughout PR which is given to a character such as a celebrity endorser or influential figure which gives the organisation more credibility.

 

The intensity and multitude of information and messages throughout PR in today’s modern world are at an all time high. So of course there are elements of exaggeration within the media but more importantly there is logical information that the public can rely on. The truth is that PR is everywhere you go and it is nearly impossible to escape it. There is a mass of messages and promotions in every aspect of life and it is important that we use these opportunities effectively to communicate the right message.
However the right message may not always be that simple to communicate. PR may not always be controlled and positive PR can always turn in to negative PR, which is something to consider. NYPD proved this through their social media request of asking the public to send in positive pictures with the police, which of course didn’t last too long and were bombarded with negative images and PR.

 

Although, it can be certain that PR is focused on promoting an organisations image and reputation, there is so much more planning and preparation involved. Today’s PR professionals have to processes a variety of skills within a competitive workplace. PR practitioners support their consumers and the public by communicating messages truthfully and effectively, ultimately creating a mass of credible PR.

Caoimhe Conway is a 4th year Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. She can be found on Twitter: @caoimhe_conway /  Instagram: caoimheconway / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caoimhe-conway-bb0b03152/

Questions with Chris

Questions with Chris

Chris Love, a leading Public Relations Practitioner in NI and founder of LOVE PR, offers some insight into his views on what makes a good public relations campaign and some advice for new practitioners entering into the world of PR. 

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About Chris

Chris Love is a Fellow of the CIPR and a Chartered Public Relations practitioner. A former Chair of CIPR Northern Ireland, CIPR UK Council member and Professional Practices Committee member, Chris runs his own consultancy Love PR. He is a current member of the CIPR Fellows’ Forum and winner of CIPR NI PRide Awards Outstanding Independent Practitioner three times.

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What do you think are the fundamentals to a successful PR campaign?

“There’s no one guide that fits all approach, however by applying SMART objectives and using the PESO model, both will definitely help with the structure. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of setting objectives and then working towards expected outcomes. Always ensure the campaign is being measured throughout to ensure the campaign delivers what it set out to do”.

What is a favourite PR campaign of yours?

“A favourite PR campaign of mine is #missingtype for National Blood Week. NHS convinced big brands including Nando’s, Odeon, Waterstone’s and Daily Mirror to remove the A, B & O’s from their name to highlight the lack of people signing up to donate blood. Even the street sign on Downing Street took part. An extra 30,000 blood donators signed up in the first year of the campaign in 2015 and in 2016 the campaign was rolled out across 21 countries. The campaign was started as there were 40% fewer new blood donors in 2014 compared to 2004. The campaign was designed to strengthen the donor base for the future and it has definitely paid off”.

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What information would you give to young PR professionals today to advance in the workplace?

“PR is a management discipline and it’s important for our industry that practitioners are strategic in their thinking about the value PR can bring to a business”.

 

So, there you have it folks. Simple and to the point, these words of wisdom have obviously worked for Chris, and hopefully you can take something from it for yourself in the world of PR!

 

Lauren Toal is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can follow her on Twitter @laurentoal5 or reach out on LinkedIn at  https://uk.linkedin.com/in/laurentoal.

PR, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

PR the bulletproof vest for the rich and famous, the lying politicians key to the white house, the reason we help others.

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Why is it whenever you mention PR, people automatically think of all the negatives behind the word? The bad that has come about because of it? The rich and famous pay a large team of PR Practitioners to protect them from the public eye. People like Harvey Weinstein have been protected, even after the monstrous things he has done. Companies like BP have been hiding in the shadows for years and then one day, like Harvey, things got out of control and stories were let out and reputations were destroyed. Tony Hayward would like his “life Back” after destroying the environment with his “little Oil Spill” and after saying things like that I don’t think we should let him have it back.

And I wont even go into the “bad and ugly” things we see in politics because we’d be here all day. But not all PR practitioners do these, what are seen as ‘immoral’, things. PR can be seen like people you have the good guy and the bad guy. Batman and The Joker. But what the good guy does surly out weighs all the things done by the bad guys?

Charities all work with a PR team to persuade people into donating, volunteering, helping. But then why is there such a negative view on persuasion by a PR practitioner. Propaganda is a word that usually comes hand in hand with PR but what is done isn’t lies or manipulation most of the time PR shows the public what is truly happening.

Those God-awful advertisements we see on TV about drink driving  and speeding are hard hitting but it shows the truth behind what happens when you get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or if you break the speed limit. Its not lies or propaganda it’s the truth. Choosing to use such gruesome and traumatic visuals could have had a very negative effect, but the opposite happened as it scared many out of the notion… well we still have the odd idiot that will get behind the wheel… Here we can see a PR team using unusual (at the time) tactics to make an impact on the public in Northern Ireland.

Another campaign that has been a huge success for the past 33 years has been Band Aid. Every Christmas this single raises over £2 Million for famine relief per year. I’m sure that you are all sick of Christmas songs by now but this, I feel, is a great example of PR at its best. The song, written by Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of Ultravox, has been a huge success and a very strategic way to raise money. The song has been released a few more times by more current artists, the most recent one included artists such as, One direction, Paloma Faith, and Ed Sheeran. This campaign raises money every year and therefore is a huge success in my books. This is another example of the good PR does. So why are there so many negative connotations with regards to PR?

PR is an extremely important aspect of all major charities and without it many audiences wouldn’t be reached. So all in all I feel the good most defiantly outweighs the bad. Who cares if the spin doctors are meeting in dark alleyways, or if we are being persuaded to donate to Dogs Trust. Shouldn’t we be doing our bit anyway?

Tierna Garvin is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MissTierna and on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tierna-garvin-bbb3a0143/ 

 

Choose me or lose me!

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There are some advertising campaigns that people will always remember – Nike’s “Just do it” slogan, Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke with” campaign.. I have the feeling that Walkers latest PR drive will be as memorable as these.

While studying CAM, I have started to become more aware of PR campaigns from many kinds of companies. I have started to see the meaning and reasoning behind some of ways they advertise products. A lot of the theory we study can be directly related to what is happening in these campaigns, from the message to the way it is showcased through design.

Putting its faith in the British public, Walkers Crisps asked people to “Choose me or lose me?” by voting for their favourite flavour in the campaign. Walkers have many classic flavours which people love, my favourite without doubt being the Prawn Cocktail.

Each of the classic British flavours is being challenged in the campaign by a new internationally inspired flavour. American Bacon and Cheddar challenges the popular Smoky Bacon, Spanish-inspired Paprika went against Prawn Cocktail and the classic Salt and vinegar versus lime and black pepper from Australia. The campaign attracted all the necessary attention that they set out to achieve. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were all targeted and people began to worry that their beloved crisp flavour may cease to exist soon. Short television adverts would flash up with the words “Choose me or lose me” to keep the campaign in the public eye without over playing it. Walkers did some simple research and chose the flavours up for choice because they were the more regularly bought variants in the UK and their own countries.

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“The campaign is based on the importance of snacks to British consumers and the opportunity to have their say. (Thomas Barkholt; marketing director at PepsiCo)

“Our consumers feel passionately about their favourite Walkers flavours and we wanted to give them the opportunity to vote in regard to which flavours will be staying on shelves.

“We know consumers love our flavour campaigns and retailers benefit enormously from the buzz they generate. We are confident that by bringing back the voting element, this campaign will really capture consumers’ interest, stimulating demand and driving growth in the savoury snacks category.”

This was a great marketing style to use as it was very easy to spread the word about the product. People would happily share the “vote post” with their friends on social media platforms hoping that they too would vote. The simplicity of the idea behind it is so refreshing from a PR perspective. There would be so many people talking about it, and depending on what option they voted for determined if they talk was positive or negative!

The campaign ran from 14th August until the 22nd October.

BUY MORE CRISPS

An interesting aspect of this campaign was that the outcome would be determined 80% by the packs of crisps bought in store, and 20% by the online vote. This is possibly the type of information that they haven’t publicised all too well. Walkers is not in fact allowing democracy to have the final say, instead favouring the invisible hand of the market. The underlying message behind this whole campaign may well be “buy more crisps”. The more crisps that are sold, the happier the company. The simple fact that there was more publicity around Walker’s crisps should have in turn resulted in more people being swayed to buying their crisps.

 

The Walkers marketing team will be hoping that its latest PR trick fares better than the 2017 champions league final giveaway which invited football fans to send in photo of themselves which was then inserted into a video with one of their leading advert stars, Gary Lineker. Social media users responded only as social media users would, sharing videos of the Walkers lead man with images of people from the past who were surrounded by controversy. In my opinion the coverage this gained will have done the company no harm at all! As the saying goes, “there is no such thing as bad publicity

They will however be hoping that this “Choose it or lose it” campaign will be remembered for all the right reasons.

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Daniel Lewis is a final year CAM student at Ulster University. He can be contacted at: LinkedIn

The best PR campaigns of summer 2017

During the summer months there was some really memorable PR campaigns. Here’s a few of my favourite campaigns:
1. Hidden job ad found on Apple’s site source code.
I’m sure many people have had the dream of working for apple. Well that dream could have become a reality in August when it was posted on social media that Apple had hidden a job offer on their site’s source code. The text said ‘hey there! You found us.’ It said the firm is looking for ‘a talented engineer to develop a critical infrastructure component’. I seen a post about the hidden job while scrolling through my Facebook. It was a perfect PR tactic by apple to get some publicity about their ‘inventive and creative’ job ad. Many people shared posts about it all over social media so apple definitely had people talking.

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2. Walker’s ‘Choose me or lose me’ Campaign.
This PR campaign was a huge topic on twitter with people shocked and annoyed at walkers getting rid of three British favourites. They left the fate of this on the public. This ‘choose me or lose me’ referendum campaign took some inspiration from Brexit, ‘vote in or vote out’. Each ‘British’ flavour is being challenged by some international flavours. American Bacon and Cheddar challenges the popular Smoky Bacon, Spanish-inspired Paprika going against Prawn Cocktail and the classic Salt and Vinegar versus lime and black pepper from Australia. The #chooseorlose ‘crisp referendum’ started August 14th and closed on October 22nd.

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3. Björn Borg plays a tennis match on the border between the U.S and Mexico

This has to be one of the best PR campaigns I’ve seen this summer. It was created by the Swedish sportswear brand Bjorn Borg. The campaign was to highlight that sports has the ability to ‘unite people’. The campaign was orchestrated in response to President Donald Trump’s ‘Build a wall’ policy. Mexican player Mariano Argote and American player Peter Clemente played a tennis match on the US and Mexican border. It was called the ‘Borg open’ one player played in Mexica and the other played in America. The campaign was an emotive and thought provoking idea of finding commonality across borders.

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4. Tourism Ireland’s Game of Thrones 250ft tapestry
Tourism has increased in Ireland over recent years and this is partly due to Game of Thrones being filmed here. Ireland has benefited hugely from this and now a 250ft tapestry has been unveiled. During every episode of season 7 a new part of it was unveiled. This is an ambitious and great PR campaign by tourism Ireland as even when the show ends there will still be a part of vestros to visit for years to come. The tapestry is on display in the Ulster museum in Belfast. I know where I will be going this weekend.

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Lena Coyle is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @Lena_coyle Continue reading “The best PR campaigns of summer 2017”

Look What ‘PR’ Makes Taylor Do – she’s not ‘really’ dead…

I’ll admit, I’m a self-confessed Taylor Swift fan – I’m a ‘Swiftie’ – and yes, I’m proud of it.

However, if you’re not a fan and have absolutely zero interest in her (or her cats or ‘squad’) then first of all: we can’t be friends. Second: don’t worry, this won’t be some typical fan-girl blog… but when one of the most influential, successful and talked about music-moguls in the WORLD, just released her new album titled ‘REPUTATION’ and we have been set the task to write PR Blogs?

Well, this was a no-brainer (and I’m joking about my first point, promise!)

Thumbs up Taylor Swift

Yes, it can be said that I’ve been through every ‘Swift era’; from the ‘old’ guitar-playing, curly-haired, country teen singing about Romeo and Juliet, to the sassy pop-star singing about the magical feelings of turning 22, to the 2014 Taylor who asked us all to ‘shake off’ the ‘haters and the players’ to the rebranded, shady ‘new’ “I don’t give af” DIVA that she is today.

So, how did Taylor manage to do this?

The answer is simple: she has a helluva-mighty PR team.

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Let’s take it back to the beginning… and THAT Kanye West infamous interruption at the 2009 VMAs when Taylor won Best Female Video. Kanye rolled up (sunglasses firmly on his head) and took her microphone “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! All time!” (#ClassicKanye).

I’ll never forget Beyoncé’s shocked reaction, “Oh Kanye. Oh God.”

Oh God indeed. He was then booed off by the audience.

Kanye West Taylor Swift VMAs

Fast forward through the years and things had improved between the pair.

That is, until good ol’ Kanye strikes again. *cue eye-roll emoji here*

This time, in a reference about Tay in his 2016 song ‘Famous’ he claimed – “I made that b**** famous.” Swifty clearly wasn’t happy and called Kanye out at the GRAMMY’S (as you do). However, everybody knows Kim Kardashian, right?

Kanye’s wife who has a gazillion social media followers.

Kim claimed Taylor had approved the line and posted Snapchat videos of Kanye discussing one part of the song with Taylor… although this ‘evidence’ only showed Tay hearing one particular lyric.

“I swear I don’t love the drama – it loves me!” a lyric that sums up the Taylor Swift of Reputation, according to Rolling Stones.

Taylor’s nice girl ‘reputation’ in the public eye hit a low when Kanye and Kim ‘outed’ her and she was denounced the worst thing you could call someone in our modern-digital-era: a SNAKE *cue snake emoji*

This snake emoji followed Taylor on social media – no matter what she posted, she would be in-undated with thousands of snakes… so much so, Taylor was the first Instagram user in the world to disable comments from all posts.

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Then the most dramatic day of Taylor Swift history happened.

“They never see me coming – what I do next…” another lyric from Reputation (there’s a pattern forming…)

Described by the media as a “digital tsunami”, Swifty removed not just comments, but EVERYTHING on social media. Zero posts, tweets and unfollowed everybody in the process, leaving her 95.4 million Twitter followers, 102 million Instagram followers and 838,458 Facebook fans left in a limbo.

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 THEN THE SECOND MOST DRAMATIC DAY IN THE HISTORY OF TAYLOR SWIFT HAPPENED.

Her social media all at once posted a cryptic video of, well you’ve guessed it, a SNAKE.

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 Taylor repeats in her new album “my Reputation’s never been worse so…” but let’s not forget she “never goes out of style” and she’s not wrong. No matter what ‘bad rep’ Taylor Swift gets – there is definitely “no such thing as bad publicity” to the PR geniuses at Brand T-Swizzle who can spin just about anything.

Just like the omnipresent snakes on Taylor’s social platforms – Swifty’s team recognised she needed to ‘shed her skin’ crafting and re-inventing her with a new image (and attitude) in order to sell a multi-million number of her new albums.

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The album title ‘Reputation’ was a hint that she planned to address some of the controversies she’s dealt with in the past, and her album cover literally GLORIFIES the media with its newspaper style and use of classic font. This, as an iota (or two fingers), to the Media who have portrayed her in the light they have, since 2009.

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The ‘Taylor Swift’ we know isn’t just a person – she’s a BRAND, a case-study, a re-invention of character.

Look What You Made Me Do – the most-anticipated song of the year was released – and people were SHOOK by her lyrics directly addressing both Kanye West, and the Mass Media in general:

“The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now….

WHY?

Oh, ‘cause she’s DEAD”

Out with the old Taylor and in with the new, alongside an epic music video even mocking her previous personnas and literally OWNING what people were saying negatively about it her through the form of…. ‘the snake.’

Taylor Swift SNAKE

“I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time. I mean, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time” – indeed she does, or her PR team do anyways.

This comeback single is still being talked about, and hit Number 1 on worldwide iTunes for a straight consecutive 3 weeks, breaking all kinds of streaming service records in the process.

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Vanity Fair stated recently how social media has replaced the ‘traditional celebrity publicist,’ when a musician can announce a world tour through the form of a single tweet.

What did Taylor Swift do? Oh… she just announced her biggest world tour to date over the social media she deleted herself off previously. (You’re probs asking how I’ve kept up with all this…)

In total, Ticketmaster stated 2.5 million to 3 million tickets for the 44-date tour (including stops in the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand) sold out within minutes.

THIS is why Taylor Swift WINS at life basically.

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“Make no mistake, this girl’s love affair with DRAMA is alive and well,” according to Rolling Stones… but it also conveniently helps her sell just about anything she puts her name to.

Her life has evolved into a PR minefield, but to sum up this ‘drama’ of Taylor Swift to date…

I refer back to my title of this blog post:

Look what ‘PR’ makes Taylor do – she certainly is NOT dead.

 

Chloe Campbell is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/chloe-campbell-337b26152 / Facebook: Chloe Campbell.