When Dove met Facebook: and the illusion of a schedule that controls what people consume

Dove’s ‘The Ad Makeover’ campaign allows women to replace ads promoing low self esteem with something a little more positive

John Hammond: You’re right, you’re absolutely right. Hiring Nedry was a mistake, that’s obvious. We’re over-dependent on automation, I can see that now. Now, the next time everything’s correctable. Creation is an act of sheer will. Next time it’ll be flawless.

Ellie Sattler: It’s still the flea circus. It’s all an illusion.

John Hammond: When we have control again –

Ellie Sattler: You never had control! That’s the illusion!

From Jurassic park (1993)

a rather interesting debate is being had over a rather innovative campaign from Dove in Australia. playing out across the fine pages of B&T is a discussion about the relative merits of a campaign that allows women to replace ads that encourage low self-esteem (shut up, we’ve all seen them) with one of eight encouraging messages, which you can share across and beyond your personal networks.

the bit that’s causing the debate is that you can select facebook keywords that you feel describe other women who you think should see the ad that you have selected. You and Dove making-over Facebook one demoralising ad at a time, but in doing so you replace – presumably – ads that would have otherwise been there.

so, obvs, this is really smart thinking.  on message for the campaign and for the brand – with innovative and relevant use of the Facebook advertising platform that empowers people to engage with a brand thru media on their terms. fans all round then? no so much …

Nick Keenan, department head of implementation planning and investment at MediaCom has commented that “It’s very innovative but I think it serves Facebook and not the advertiser … at the end of the day I’m not sure what kind of surety it gives to other advertisers that are doing things with Facebook.”

this most awesome use of the word ‘surety’ kicks off a real battle between Keenan and chief executive of media agency Fusion Strategy, Steve Allen

Allen: “that’s “phooey … this is the new today … the new era for advertising and the internet is the first line of that.”

Keenan counters that “that’s completely naïve … how do you plan a schedule for that?”

back to Allen: “it’s like serving up Porsche ads to people in wheelchairs, it does more damage than good”

even Mamamia.com.au‘s Freedman chips in: “The idea of empowering women to create their own advertising landscape is a disruptive one and that always translates to the kind of cut-through required when talking to women in a very crowded market.”

as entertaining as all of this is (and it is), it reminds me of one of the key reasons that I started and continue to write this blog. we live and work between two worlds; our media past and our media future. the debate being played out is between stalwarts of those two worlds, as the language used suggests.

Keenan is arguing that people’s actions will disrupt bought media impacts. like leaving the room in an ad break to make a cup of tea, or turning attention down to the tablet when the ads come on?

Allen argues that people know what brands they know and only want communications from those brands (“you are better off allowing consumers to select what they want, rather than to try and force them into things. Your impact is going to be much more valuable if they are people that want to know about your kind of product or brand. They are going to be receptive to it”) … which one could argue, and I would, leads to a rather myopic experience of brands and media.

for my twopenneth, its a debate about control, and the illusion that we ever had it.

media schedules are amazing things. I really mean that. to an experienced practitioner a brilliant schedule can sing. it can tell stories and decribe audiences and ideas and phases and roles of media. it can articulate behaviours and pinpoint the most intricate nuances of what a planner is seeking to achieve.

but a schedule can never control what people consume. that, to paraphrase Ellie Sattler, is the illusion. a schedule may be the sheet music but it needs people to play it. this is the illusion that we have, or indeed ever had, control.

that illusion is the great trap of applying 20th Century media planning in a 21st Century media landscape. Facebook isn’t like TV, and within a few years TV won’t be like TV either. the rules may not have changed as radically as Allen suggests, but they have changed.

we’re all of us fighting a war for attention, kudos to Dove for developing such a smart weapon for getting it.

all quotes from ‘Ad industry in flap over new Dove app article’ on B&T

disclamer: I don’t work for Unilever or Dove but I did pitch for their business last year and enjoyed the process very much

 

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