Should Marketers and Media Wield Their Power for Good?

I shared a few videos with some friends this weekend as I led a discussion on the impact media has on defining beauty and sexuality in our culture. Aside from being incredibly well produced, the videos – and the larger campaign that they are a part of – are a great example of how brands can differentiate themselves in a meaningful way by having the courage to buck their industries’ status quo marketing trends and look at key consumer insights through a different lens.

I wanted to share the videos with you.

After watching them, the reminder for me is that we don’t always have to focus our marketing efforts on telling people how our product or service will help them become who they want to be. That they are incomplete without product X, which will make them whole. Showing that you understand their insecurities and empowering them to recognize that they are already amazing can create incredibly powerful connections between brand and consumer.

So I found myself asking “do marketers and media have actual influence over how consumers’ view themselves and the world around them?” I say, “yes.” That led to a bigger question. If so, do we have a responsibility to use that power for good more often? I’m interested in what you think about that.

Okay, on to the videos… My personal favorite is “Amy,” because it sums up how 99% of men feel about their significant other, even though they usually don’t believe us.





If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine


9 responses to “Should Marketers and Media Wield Their Power for Good?

  1. Nice, had a good friend that worked on this campaign.

  2. Yes! Especially with the decline of consumerism we may see as the economic situation unfolds. Targeting our sense of shared humanity rather than our insecurities will set a company/marketer/media entity apart like a dark horse in a herd of white unicorns…

  3. Kathleen Moriarty

    I just read a great book called the Body Project that dealt with similar issues. The book had some pictures of advertisements from the early 1900s to the present, and these ads illustrated how the media relies on women’s aspirational nature to sell a product. Dove has done an excellent job at raising awareness about the media’s often negative influence over women, and the best (and most obvious) way to change this is to accurately portray women in the media and not encourage unrealistic stereotypes. Shouldn’t be too hard, but it’s taken way too long for us to come to this realization.

  4. Wow first of all let me start by saying that these are powerful videos that have helped restore my faith in the advertising industry. I have written alot about these issues on my blog and encouraged many people to seek alternative forms of media and also to critically engage with the media forms that they consume. I think that there is a definite hunger out there to see advertising that does not encourage sexism and misogyny and that is what I think the Dove Campaign has caught on to . I have always been torn in dismissing most of advertising because I didn’t think that was a solution and I am glad to see videos like these and that you can critically engage an audience whilst selling a product.

  5. I’m a big fan of the Dove campaign, but also flummoxed at times because it’s done by Unilever. They’re the same folks doing the commercials for the AXE men’s products that are basically promoting the use this = get laid mentality. So I find that a little contradictory.

    So that begs the question: is it ok for a single company with many brands to put out conflicting messages? Do the men not need the empowerment, or is this a different *kind* of empowerment rooted in base sexuality? Isn’t that perpetuating stereotypes?

    I’m ALL for messaging that empowers, inspires, and moves people in positive directions, and I do really like this campaign. I just have moments of pause realizing that many faces can be worn by a single company, even if some of them are the very essence of good (and others not so much).

  6. @Kristin – i agree on targeting our humanity instead of insecurities, but that’s probably because I’m a softy sometimes. 🙂

    @Amber – You’ve brought up a great point of contradiction. The AXE commercials were brought up as an example in the discussion with friends, too.

    I’m sure that each brand probably has it’s on marketing team. I think that a decision would have to be made on the Unilever level that said “our marketing, in whatever form it takes, will empower, inspire, etc.” Of course, the AXE marcomm team would cry out that sex is what inspires teenage boys. (they’re probably right, too) So should we give companies like Unilever a break because different messages are driven to different audiences?

    What I come back to is that it’s a much bigger problem to solve than we realize. And we are influenced by so many channels – music videos, music, TV, gossip mags, etc. – that it seems like an overwhelming problem to tackle. But it’s important to recognize and understand that the onslaught is happening not only because of how it effects our perceptions of self, but also the effects it has on our relationships.

  7. @amber I see none of the issues that many folks have over the whole Unilever/Dove/Axe thing. I don’t think it’s wrong – nor is it unusual – that ‘conglomerate style’ holding companies that own multiple brands should allow those brands to each pursue their own marketing niche. These brands act as independent entities, have their own marketing goals and their own budgets.

    So in essence, A Dove campaign is done by Dove, not by Unilever. Ditto for Axe. Unilever’s campaigns are likely limited to CSR and other corporate/public affairs/financial things, not the promotion of individual brands.

    I think the only ‘fault’ with Unilever is that they’ve been so transparent with this. And that’s actually refreshing. There are countless examples of Brands acting in what would seem like opposing ways yet nothing is said about the parent company that owns both. Unilever chose to expose the man behind the curtain, and while that has had some criticizing them one can’t fault their attempt to a) be honest and b) allow their brands to act independently.

  8. Dave

    Really enjoyed this piece – keep em coming!

    Cheers, Iggy

  9. Pingback: My Inspiration Shared for 20081009 at one little cog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s