Case Studies

What Went Wrong: Dove’s Soap Ad

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Image courtesy of The Daily Dot

In the next of our, “What Went Wrong” series, I’d like to explore a recent controversial advertisement aired by Dove. For years, Dove has created a brand that’s reflective of “real beauty” for women, meant to relate to all women despite their physical characteristics. The personal care brand has launched several successful marketing campaigns in the past; most notably their Dove Campaign for Real Beauty which aims “to celebrate the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves”, according to the company.

But what happens when your brand values are misinterpreted in advertising, thus resulting in public backlash?

If you’ve yet to see Dove’s latest commercial, watch it here.

Here are the reasons why I think this campaign failed in its execution:

Issue One: Lack of attention to racial sensitivities

It makes sense that Dove would cast models of different ethnic backgrounds in their ads. They are, of course, a company that prides themselves on inclusion. But central to the failed execution of this campaign is the order in which they chose to introduce each woman combined with the product they were selling. This lack of attention to detail led to public outcry of Dove being racially insensitive.

The ad was criticized because many people interpreted a black woman ‘changing’ into a white woman to be an inappropriate message – especially for a beauty company. It’s important to note that the reaction to this ad was swift and clear, with almost no one coming to the more positive conclusions that Dove intended.

Tip #1: Before releasing an advertisement of any kind, show it to a few people who come from diverse backgrounds. This exercise will provide you with important feedback and allow you to make any necessary changes to the ad prior to it going live.

Issue Two: Failure to learn from competitors

Yet again, and much like the last campaign I analyzed, brands fail to learn from past mistakes. Dove is not the first company to be in the spotlight for airing a racially insensitive commercial. Remember this commercial that sparked public outrage last year?

In the past, there are many historical examples of soap and personal hygiene ads utilizing racially charged images. Some of these include overtly racist images of people of colour scrubbing their skin to become white, and some show more subtle images of women using makeup and beauty products to make their skin lighter. However, there are numerous examples of ads with this messaging that have consistently provoked outrage, and it’s important that companies study past marketing mistakes in order to avoid them in the future.

Tip #2: If you’re launching a new campaign, conduct competitor research first to gain insight on what has and has not worked for the competition.

A successful campaign is not necessarily one that has an infinite budget. As a small business, if you put in the time and energy to know who your customers are, you’ll be able to create tailored messages that resonate with your audience, and thus convert more leads. For assistance in finding out who your customers are, contact the team at CreativeWorks Marketing today!

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Knowing Your Customers: A Market Research Case Study

 Several organizations I have worked with over the years claim to know their clients inside and out, but is that really the case?

Many of them often tell me they know how their clients perceive them because they explicitly ask for their opinion. However, I would argue that much like we rarely tell the waiter/waitress that we don’t like our meals, our clients are unlikely to tell us the truth unless there is a real issue. However, if third-party sources ask the same question to your clients, your clients are more likely to tell the truth. This fact alone is why unbiased market research is a crucial step in any marketing strategy.

In this blog, I’d like to share with you a case study that perfectly illustrates the importance of market research and how it helped them better define who they are to their customers.

Overview

Our client, a mid-sized educational toy distributor in Toronto, wanted to conduct research to identify their customers, the views they have of their brand, and the values they tie to the brand and its products. Specifically, they wanted to determine if there was a difference in buying behaviours between the company’s two key markets, establish any product leakage, and validate their brand recognition in the marketplace.

 Conducting the Research

Based on the client’s goals for this research project, we determined both qualitative and quantitative research was needed in order to receive the answers we were looking for.

First, we started by conducting preliminary qualitative research. Qualitative Research is the process of talking to someone through open-ended questions about a particular subject to gain insights into their thoughts and opinions. This can be done through a conversation, phone call, or focus group.

To complete this research, we conducted eight discussion guide-driven phone calls with a targeted cross-section of buyers within our client’s target audience.

With the results of the pre-field research, we crafted a highly customized survey that allowed for each audience to only see questions specifically directed at them. We further segmented the questionnaire by programming it based on the role of the individual by type of organization and then by responsibility. This type of research, called Quantitative Research, allows us to track data with closed-ended questions and more numerical information.

Findings

After analyzing the gathered information, we were able to provide our client with an in-depth analysis of their customers. The key findings indicated that their customers with the most purchasing power in their target audience reported the least amount of brand exposure. It also clearly identified that their brand was very well known in one of their key target markets and less known in the other, and lastly, their catalogue is highly utilized and highly regarded. 

Next Steps

Once the deeper analysis was complete and revealed more about their customers’ buying behaviours, preferences for price vs. product quality, and delivery times, our client was able to develop a marketing strategy for 2017 that was truly in line with their customers’ needs and wants.

Market research is a crucial step in your marketing strategy. It provides you with insights you would not be able to get by just asking your customers yourself. Market research helps you get to know your customers better, and what is more valuable than that?

Case Study: How Strategic Crisis Management Can Save Your Brand

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Good brands are not immune to disasters, and disasters have the capability of ruining relationships you have spent time and money on building with your customers (such is the case with Jian Ghomeshi’s personal brand right now!).

Although there have been many large brands that have suffered brand crisis’s, I wanted to highlight Maple Leaf Foods and Johnson & Johnson’s because I particularly liked the way they handled themselves in brand crisis’s that had the potential to seriously damage their businesses.

The two case study’s below underscore the need for having a successful brand management strategy in place to help you navigate your brand out of whatever sticky situation you may be in.

Maple Leaf Foods

On August 23, 2008 a Toronto Maple Leaf Foods plant was involved in the outbreak of the food-borne illness, Listeria, caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. One day later, Maple Leaf recalled 23 of its products that were distributed the previous week, and the company estimated the recall would cost it at least $20 million.

So what did Michael McCain, the CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, do to help repair what brand damage had been done? He held press conferences and posted a public apology on the company’s website. Another spokeswoman from Maple Leaf Foods hosted interviews with a wide range of media, and they ran TV spots and advertisements in newspapers. Their strategic approach reassured customers that the risk was gone, and that they could feel confident in Maple Leaf Foods once again.

Johnson & Johnson

In Chicago in 1982, the leading painkiller medication in the United States at the time faced a horrible crisis when seven people died after taking extra-strength Tylenol that had been laced with Cyanide. Bottles of Tylenol were tampered with and once the connection was made between Tylenol and the reported deaths, public announcements were made to warn people about consuming the product. As a result, it’s market share decreased.

Pretty bad, right? Well, it could have ruined their business, but Johnson & Johnson was quick to respond and immediately removed the product from shelves across the US, which accounted for about 31 million bottles, and a loss of more than $100 million. They also stopped all advertising for the product. After, they reintroduced their product to the market with a three-way, tamper-proof bottle. They offered customers a $2.50 coupon on the purchase of their products, and over 2250 sales people made presentations for the medical community to restore confidence that had been lost. Within a year, they had regained their market share.

What’s your brand crisis management strategy? How important do you think having a strategy in place is? To be a tad controversial and push the limits: Do you think there is anything Jian Ghomeshi can do to repair his personal brand? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and insights in the comment section below.