THIS WEEK IN MARKETING: Dove’s #KeepTheGrey Campaign

Skincare brand, Dove’s latest advertising campaign is a shining example for marketers in Eswatini and brands on how to stay relevant and in sync with ongoing public conversations. Our brand and marketing resident writer says marketers should be bold, brazen, and topical but sensible, by finding the balance between cut-through communications and respecting certain boundaries.

By Mrs. Smith [Chief Brandologist of Mrs. Smith’s Empire]

The world has barely recovered from the uproar caused by Finland’s president, Sanna Marina’s leaked images of her out partying with her friends, the divisiveness it caused and the questions it raised: how does this affect her performance as a politician? Is it because she’s a woman that we won’t concede to her holding a seat of power as well as letting her hair down after hours with her mates? Because surely she can’t do both, right?!

Whilst on the subject of letting one’s hair down, award-winning Canadian news anchor, Lisa LaFlamme broke the internet this week when she was allegedly ousted from her job at CTV News, having served there for more than 35 years, reporting on conflict and disaster zones. The reason the station let her go? They were not happy with LaFlamme’s decision to stop dyeing her greying hair, thus altering the on-screen image the station had cultivated.

According to reports, senior CTV News executive Michael Melling had asked who had approved the decision to “let Lisa’s hair go grey”. Subsequently, LaFlamme is no longer with CTV News, and Melling has taken leave effective immediately.

This incident has been a cultural moment that has reignited the ongoing debates about ageism and sexism in the workplace. Whilst the world was up in arms, beauty and skincare brand, Dove, saw this as an opportunity to continue to propel the brand’s stance on women’s self-love and worth through developing its #KeepTheGrey Campaign. The brand brilliantly showed up in a cultural moment that was relevant to its identity and succinctly conveyed its values to consumers and the greater ecosystem.

This moment clearly displayed the need for marketers to always have their fingers on the pulse of the cultural conversation in order to ensure that brands in their portfolio continue to stay relevant and top of mind for our consumers. As a brand custodian, it is imperative to be consistently listening and watching what’s happening in the world on a daily basis so as to keep abreast of cultural conversations, which may be aligned with the brand’s values.

For Dove, the firing of LaFlamme was an opportune moment to further land the brand’s ‘Real Beauty’ Pledge, encouraging women to proudly embrace and present what they deem to be the best version of themselves.

LaFlamme did exactly that and was crucified for it in her workplace. And Dove, wearing the proverbial white hat, came swooping in and shone a light on the situation, forcing us to pay attention to an uncomfortable, but ongoing pandemic.

Act Quickly

Within days of LaFlemme losing her job, the Dove Canada team was quick to act, briefing their creative agency, Edelman, to swiftly conceptualize a campaign around this burning issue. It was an opportunity they couldn’t let up. But more importantly, with Dove’s vast platform, it was a moment for the brand to show up as an advocate for women and enhance the conversation.

Act Cautiously

It is important to note, of course, that whilst bold and risqué marketing like this may influence the narrative and steer conversations in the right direction, the market in which you operate should also influence how far you can take your audaciousness.

There is very little to no sense in creating engagement and change for one day if this will result in business closure and loss of jobs. So, yes, give allowance for your brand to be bold, brazen, and topical – but be sensible. It’s an oxymoron, but being a marketer is all about finding the balance between cut-through communications and respecting certain boundaries.

Follow me: @mrs_smith8 (Twitter and Instagram) – Nqobile F Simelane

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