Marketing Director, Personal Wash-US
Robert Candelino is responsible for Unilever’s Dove, Dove Men+Care, Axe, Lever 2000 and Caress brands and has been with the company for more than 13 years, working in customer development, innovation and a variety of brand management roles in Canada, the US and the UK. In this interview with writer/analyst Tobi Elkin, Candelino describes key personal care brand initiatives and Unilever’s approach to incorporating social media into the marketing communications mix, and offers examples drawn from his brands’ experiences for successfully engaging the consumer target.
eMarketer: Dove’s Real Beauty campaign has been successful in getting women talking and sharing across media channels. Which channel triggers the most viral word-of-mouth—social media or offline media or some combination of both?
Robert Candelino: We try to reach our consumer where they live, work and play with innovative marketing that sparks rich dialogue and conversation. We believe in using a balance of earned, paid and owned media that work together to hit consumers at multiple touch points.
As we have expanded our presence online through our social channels, we have seen an organic amplification of the conversation around our iconic campaigns, as one tweet or link can be seen by thousands in a consumer’s network. For example, “Evolution,” a Dove film introduced to the public nearly five years ago via earned and social media, took off virally and still generates thousands of social media mentions a year in discussion.
eMarketer: Dove, like all consumer marketers, must show the ROI for each marketing dollar spent and for earned media as well. How do you tie your efforts directly to sales, brand loyalty and purchase intent?
Candelino: We set aggressive benchmarks for all of our marketing efforts, track them and adjust as necessary. We believe that creating a rich, loyal community leads to brand affinity and results in sales.
eMarketer: What three best practices do you recommend for health and beauty brands looking to leverage word-of-mouth marketing and social media? Can you offer specific examples of Unilever brands that incorporate these practices?
Candelino: Retain authenticity. Stay true to your brand while also creating opportunities for it to be relevant. Our Dove brand is rooted in listening to women. The brand’s marketing programs are relevant and credible because they speak to consumers’ actual needs.
For example, Dove commissioned a global study, “The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report,” upon which the brand based the launch of the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004. Since the study reported that beauty had become limiting and unattainable—only 2% of women around the world described themselves as beautiful—the campaign’s main objective was to start a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty.
Today, based on current insights and in order to sustain relevance with women, the campaign has a new vision. In 2010, a new study, “The Real Truth About Beauty: Revisited,” Dove discovered that most women were unable to recognize their own beauty—this is something that can greatly impact their self-esteem and confidence.
These insights became the impetus to evolve the campaign and launch an unprecedented effort to make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety, through the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem.
Know your target audience. Surround the consumer at various touchpoints with relevant content where they live, work and play. The Dove Men+Care “Journey to Comfort” program is a great example of how to build a comprehensive program across marketing touchpoints.
“Journey to Comfort” is rooted in the powerful insight that our target male has experienced many unsung moments in his life, such as marriage, fatherhood and professional successes that amount to a personal journey. These moments have helped him reach a point of comfort in his own skin. By bringing to life the journeys of our target’s favorite athletes, Dove Men+Care was able to produce content on multiple platforms—including online, mobile and social media—that is compelling, relevant and organic.
On Twitter, we have engaged our target with timely and relevant conversation about sports, fatherhood and other topics that matter to him, as well as with sports memorabilia giveaways from our “Journey to Comfort” spokespeople.
Build credibility and trust. Create a community where people are genuinely invited to have a voice and engage with the brand. This involves a degree of letting go and resisting the temptation to control the dialogue.
For example, the Dove brand’s Facebook page encourages open conversation about the issues that are pertinent to our brand. We communicate and engage with consumers regarding Dove core messaging that includes both its social mission and equity, as well as the care offered by our products.
We aim to foster social media relationships by building trust and credibility through our content and an engagement strategy through which we have one-on-one conversations with consumers. The nostalgic connection with a brand like Dove is extremely strong in social media and shapes conversations with generations of Dove users who are encouraged to share their stories with the brand.