There are tried-and-trusted tricks to achieve integration, but Dove has an extra ingredient
We marketing journalists are always being told what the tricks to building an integrated, media-neutral campaign are; it's seeing them play out that's the interesting thing. I had that opportunity through moderating PRWeek's recent webcast featuring brand leaders from Edelman, Ogilvy & Mather, and Unilever talking about Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign.
The first trick I recognized was that the campaign was built from the consumer out - more specifically, from women out. The team identified something that was deeper than a requirement for a product's promise - firmer skin. It understood that underneath women's desire for firmer skin was a lack of acceptance in many women of the foibles of their own bodies. So the team zeroed in on the product benefit, and from it constructed a campaign that presented that benefit as a stepping stone to body acceptance. The message was: "You're gorgeous just the way you are. But if you, like many other women out there, are dissatisfied, then here's something simple you can do that will make you feel good about yourself."
The second trick I recognized was that the idea didn't mind who had it. I never was able to get anyone to attribute the idea to one particular person, firm, or discipline. Maybe the team was just playing nice. More likely, the excellent research that informed many of the premises of the campaign led everyone to the same conclusions. The execution of the campaign flips seamlessly from ads to PR and back again; one would be nothing without the other, and both are inextricably linked back to the core idea of body acceptance.
Which led to the third trick that I recognized: respect for and understanding of the power another marketing discipline can bring to a strong idea. The advertising team clearly had a greater understanding of PR's strategic potential than your average ad team. And the PR team knew that using an ad campaign as the basis for a lot of its work did not mean it was being treated like second-class citizens, as many might have thought.
But there was a fourth trick in play for this campaign, one that only crystallized when a (female) friend from a healthcare PR firm commented on it afterward. The three people leading this effort were women, and the relationship and terms of engagement they had with one another took the campaign into another dimension. As my friend said, she saw "a smoothness, an ease and comfort to it that just doesn't seem to happen when men are involved."
Yes, there are men working on the large team for this campaign. But these three women, who are also leading the charge, demonstrated what my friend recognized as an empathy for one another and the brand's audience that went deeper than any level of PR expertise. Business books have long attempted to harness the qualities that men and women uniquely bring to the workplace. The PR industry, with its proliferation of women, is an interesting Petri dish through which to view this.
But regardless, what I saw was what I define as the PR industry's own form of creativity: bringing your life experience - in this case, being smart, sensitive women, moms, friends, daughters, and sisters - to bear in order to connect more deeply with your audience.