The Dove vs. the Axe continued ~ Brand Mix

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Dove vs. the Axe continued

Grant McCracken has a great blog called: THIS BLOG SITS AT THE Intersection of Anthropology and Economics. I even thought that before he decided to address a comment I'd left in an above-the-fold post today.

For those who want to follow the discussion on whether Unilever does or doesn't have a problem when two of its brands (Axe and Dove) have headed off in different and contradictory directions, tune in here.

For those that have already read that and are visiting here because Grant said some nice things about my blog: Welcome! I hope you're not disappointed.

If you've not read enough about this subject already, here are links to my earlier posts on the Dove/Axe subject:
1) Don't Axe my Dove: the danger of telling radically different stories with different brands in your portfolio
2) More on axing the dove: One explanation of why it was only the latest Dove campaign that triggered the hypocisy response


BIG said...

The issue is very clear and easy to understand. Unilever is a corporate brand. Axe and Dove are product brands with their own individual identities. The women that buy Dove aren't concerned with Axe and infact wouldn't even know it all came from Unilever if us branding types didn't make big deals about it.

If the Dove brand is honest and lives up to its brand promise then there is no problem. But, if it is just a bunch of smoke and mirrors they're going to have a big concern.

You can't hold a corporate brand hostage because they have different feelings for different brands. Makes no sense.

That's just my take as a branding guy.

Martin Bishop said...

We are now simulcasting our comments here and on Grant's original post!

The question is whether Unilever can hide itself from public scrutiny and say "It's nothing to do with us that two marketing teams that sit in the same building come up with completely different ways to talk about women. We love them both and we have no POV ourselves."

Certainly companies like Body Shop or Method that have higher company level profiles and have taken clear positions on issues of the day, could not be similarly inconsistent.

Perhaps Unilever can still get away with it. I'm not sure.

BIG said...

I think so, again what's their corporate brand identity? I have no idea. I think they brand their products as the star and go quietly into the night with the corporate brand. Don't they sell cleaners as well? They sell everything under the sun right?

Martin Bishop said...

More or less everything and I agree that their corporate identity is weak so they are much more likely to get away with treating their product brands as independent stars than a company with a higher profile.

But then, of course, they are also missing out. If Unilever doesn't mean anything or stand for anything it may be disadvantaged against other stakeholders (like investors, the media etc).

Anonymous said...


Today's consumers have many channels to express their opinions. If one person notices the issue and decides to tell another and another... Well, as the video below shows us:

Google is creating a complete new accountability scorecard for brands. They need to be really aware to what's being said about them.

Consumer generated media is powerful. The reputation of the brand will reflect on Google results. Consumers talk and they are not always aware that Unilever is a corporate brand while Dove as well as Axe are product brands with individual identities.


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