CAMPAIGNS: Dove gets a lift with its armpit pageant

PR Team: Unilever (Greenwich, CT) and M Booth & Associates (New York) Campaign: Most Beautiful Underarms contest Time Frame: April-July 2002 Budget: $250,000

PR Team: Unilever (Greenwich, CT) and M Booth & Associates (New York) Campaign: Most Beautiful Underarms contest Time Frame: April-July 2002 Budget: $250,000

While it's not uncommon for women to spend a significant amount of time and money caring for the skin on their face and body, the skin on their underarms is usually neglected. However, underarms, which are 99% skin and only 1% sweat glands, require the same attention as other areas of the body. In 2000, Unilever brand Dove introduced a line of moisturizer-containing women's deodorants. It was designed to make underarms a well-hydrated part of the body, as well as provide protection from both wetness and odors. "The problem was that most people just don't think about putting moisture in that area," explains Jennifer Teitler, VP of M Booth & Associates, "because they simply don't think about their underarms in the same way they do the rest of their skin." Strategy Dove enlisted M Booth & Associates to communicate the key message that underarms are an area that need to be moisturized, as well as increase awareness of Dove's deodorant products. (Most consumers tend to only associate the Dove brand with soap.) With the goal in mind of visually demonstrating the aesthetic benefits of moisturizing underarms, M Booth "needed a way of linking in people's minds Dove deodorant with beautiful, soft arms," says Teitler. Tactics Centering on the 4th of July, the agency created the Dove Deodorant All-American Most Beautiful Underarms Pageant, designed to simulate a Miss America Pageant. Hosted by Chuck Woolery, the event was held at Grand Central Station in New York City, and included women representing all 50 states. Each paraded down a fashion runway carrying flags and wearing tank-tops to signify their "independence" from sleeves, conveniently bearing their underarms. Following a pre-judging session by beauty editors from Shape and Fitness magazines, as well as Leon Hall from E!, the 10 finalists were "pitted" against each other by performing a series of arm-raising competitions. They were asked to strike three underarm-exposing poses: a 4th-of-July flag-waving technique, the "V for victory" motion, and the Statue of Liberty torch pose. The grand-prize winner, Miss Florida, received a check for $5,000. Red, white, and blue popsicles, American flags, and Dove deodorant samples were distributed to the crowd during the hour-long event. Results On the morning of the event, M Booth sent some of the contestants to the Today show window. "Katie and Matt came over immediately and asked them what they were doing," says Teitler. "It was a great plug, because it allowed them to tell viewers to come down to the pageant later that day." The event also received coverage on the Fox & Friends morning program. In all, 115 markets, including all of the top 25, picked up b-roll footage shot at the contest by World Satellite Television News. It received 430 total TV airings, and made more than 25 million consumer impressions. As part of its policy, Unilever does not share sales figures, but Stacie Bright, PR manager for the company, reports, "We were very happy with the results of the campaign, and the positive awareness it generated for the brand." Future Unilever is currently in the midst of planning its communications efforts for the 2003 deodorant product line.

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