Churches Can Learn From Dove

November 8, 2007 by

Dove continues to blaze the authenticity trail with its latest campaign–this time from their UK office because of risqué imagery–called Onslaught (viewer discretion advised).

This is the third in a series of Dove videos that tackle the problem we have today of just letting women be real women. The viral Evolution spread like wildfire which speaks to the issue of low self esteem. This led to their Pro Age spot which speaks to the issue of aging–it’s OK to have birthdays, women!

I applaud Dove’s boldness. This latest Onslaught campaign takes the beauty industry head on. The church can continue to learn from Dove’s authentic approach by showing us that it’s OK to be ourselves.

I often use a quote from Martin Luther when I speak at conferences. Luther was concerned about a friend of his who felt like he had to get his life put together before he could come to church. Luther’s response in 1544 screams loud and clear even today:

“My faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us who are real, great and hard-boiled sinners. You must by no means make Christ to seem paltry and trifling to us as though He could be our helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal and childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us. He must rather be a savior and redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities…”

Let’s be who we are, not who we’re not!

Note: The Slob Evolution parody is pretty funny too. I heard an ad exec who worked on the Dove campaign say today that they love how people have continued to tell the authenticity story, even if it doesn’t exactly play by the Dove rules.

Post By:

Brad Abare

Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it.
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10 Responses to “Churches Can Learn From Dove”

  • matt
    November 8, 2007

    Another thing the church can and should learn Dove, and Unilever, is to be authentic, and true.
    Here is a video about how Unilever (owner of dove brand), also owns Axe body spray. A very different marketing approach, with just as much impact on little girls.
    So I think we need to make sure we as churches walk the talk at all times.

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  • Brad Abare
    November 8, 2007

    It appears Matt and I were commenting at the same time. Kent Shaffer from Church Relevance also sends this link (viewer discretion advised) about some of the backlash to the Dove campaigns. Unilever has some obvious contradictions in its portfolio of companies as this post points out. I mentioned this in my original post about Dove because Unilever also owns Slim Fast. It will be interesting to see how Unilever deals with all of this in the years to come.
    I don’t know how Unilever is structured, but sister companies usually don’t work together as much as we may think. It’s kind of like churches–we don’t really work well together as best as we should, but we all report back to the same God. So when one church does a dumb thing it does reflect on the rest of us.
    This is kind of like Dove, Axe, Slim Fast, etc. I’m sure the Dove folks don’t like the Axe stuff and Axe probably doesn’t like the do-gooder Dove. They’ll have to work it out.
    Just like us churches.

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  • Joshua
    November 8, 2007

    To add to the discussion, churches need to be sure just what message they’re sending across.
    A cursory looks yields a feel-good and vital message of “be who you are.” The church needs this desperately.
    But at the end of the day, Dove says, “You don’t have to look like a supermodel, but you still need to be a bit better than what you are now. Buy Dove.”
    The heart behind Dove isn’t to convince folks they need to stay how they are and learn to love it. It’s that they need Dove products.
    It’s a great marketing strategy, no doubt. But I think that we, as a church, are called to even higher integrity.

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  • Megan
    November 8, 2007

    I was going to comment on the same thing, about Unilever, but you all beat me to it :)
    I do have a hard time with the Dove Campaign because of this – Unilever is sending mixed messages.
    Look at some more from the Axe Effect – all are sexually humiliating to women and reduce them to sex objects.

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  • brad
    November 8, 2007

    Interesting irony with the Axe brand Matt et al — well caught!
    Every time I see something like the campaign for natural beauty, which picks up on a deep truth, I can’t help like we as the Church dropped the ball in not coming up with such a critically important cultural message ourselves.
    That advertisers are doing it means it’s bound to be just a little bit squishy. After all, the motivation is always to make money, no matter how self-affirming it seems.

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  • sean salter
    November 8, 2007

    This is so great and sad at the same time. Sad because the Church is afraid of this kind of message, imagery, and in your face truth. Sad because people are capitalizing on people’s need to feel excepted for who God made them. They will buy into this product and company that only seeks to use them for money, when the church should be marketing this message simply to love on people. Yet we don’t want to love on people, nor do we want to extend ourselves out to those in need. We’d rather sit in our pews and feel loved by our God and go home and eat brunch and feel holy.
    That and I had to wait to see it at home since The Church On The Way blocks every website that potentially connects you to the outside world…
    We don’t see this kind of message and communication in the Church because we don’t want to see it. We want to be sheltered and stay in our little cozy caves away from the truth of the outside world. The truth that not only people are going to Hell, but that people are hurting and living in pain.
    I’m pretty sure this site will be the next thing to be blocked at my church since the url has the word “sucks” in it.
    I’m pretty sure I’m going to hell for using this website as a tool for ministry as well. **note sarcasm :-P ***

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  • indie
    November 8, 2007

    Unilever wants money. It has nothing to do with authenticity.

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  • Corey Buckner
    November 9, 2007

    An absolutely fabulous campaign for a reason. Like that Jewel video, it capitalizes on the natural draw of scantily clad women but saving face with their tag line. I don’t like that, but overall the campaign is positive. Excellent message that will be heard by those that need to hear it because of that little trick.

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    November 10, 2007

    Dove’s marketing campaign is off the chart! As a chic-leader, when I see these ads its liberating–our church’s ads to the world should be all the more.

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  • viralavatar
    November 21, 2007

    I made the viral spoof of Dove Onslaught for a social campaign of Terre des Hommes, a NGO who works with poor children
    This is the campaign and the video

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