Most big consumer brands have kept Snapchat at arm's length or more, fearing the messaging app's reputation as a conduit for teen sexting and unsavory direct-response advertisers.
Now one of the first big packaged-goods brands to launch an initiative with the social network is the one known for trying to boost girls' self image: Dove. The Unilever brand has begun an effort on Snapchat as part of its annual "Self-Esteem Weekend," which it observes this year starting Thursday, sending "Snaps" on the subject and soliciting replies.
"Having a public conversation about your self-esteem can be intimidating," Unilever Marketing Director Jennifer Bremmer said in an e-mail. "Our goal was to leverage the ephemeral nature of Snapchat to establish genuine personal connections in a space that feels safe to girls and women. Dove has invited them to share their insecurities via Snaps, and as these Snaps disappear, they can make room for positive thoughts."
Dove and its "self-esteem ambassadors" will be responding to girls' Snaps and providing "real-time advice and feedback."
It's the first time Dove has worked with Snapchat, she said. "We want to speak to them in ways and places that are organic to them," Ms. Bremmer said. "What made the platform most appealing was the ability to engage with women and girls in a personal, one-to-one manner."
Asked about whether the brand had any fears about Snapchat, Ms. Bremmer said only that the brand wants to connect with women and girls where they spend their time and feel comfortable connecting.
In the first series of two-hour sessions hosted by Dove on Snapchat, 30 girls and women reached out to a child psychologist and educator working with the brand with questions about self esteem. Through Monday evening, Dove and its ambassadors had totaled 75 conversations, though the formal kickoff of the campaign doesn't come until the "weekend" begins Oct. 9. Story "Snaps" from the campaign had been viewed nearly 130,000 times.
So how will the Dove measure success?
"Given that this marks our fist initiative on Snapchat, we will be looking at many metrics," Ms. Bremmer said. "Overall, we will look at the conversation and engagement we sparked on this platform individually with girls and women, and seek to understand the value of that connection to users on the platform."
The broader Self-Esteem Weekend begins with an event at the United Nations and follows the a new "Legacy" video campaign and film focused on how mothers and other role models' self-image affects girls. Unilever also has worked with Walmart, Kroger, Ahold, Meijer, Safeway and Wakefern to host local self-esteem workshops in their headquarters' communities.