America's Hottest Brands

Dove's Second Act Generates Strong Sales

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Rob Candelino, director of U.S. skin-care marketing, Dove.
Rob Candelino, director of U.S. skin-care marketing, Dove.

With all due respect to F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are second acts in lives of American brands -- consider Dove, which, though owned by Anglo-Dutch Unilever, is American by heritage.

Dove had risen rapidly to global sales above $2 billion last decade on expansion into new categories and a "Campaign for Real Beauty," but as the brand ran out of space to expand and stumbled in U.S. hair care, those gains slowed and started to reverse. So how then, to explain Dove's sales soaring 9.8% to $687 million in the 52 weeks ended Oct. 2, according to SymphonyIRI, with gains in skin care, hair care and deodorant?

Much of the success owes to old-fashioned packaged-goods blocking and tackling -- new products and sharply focused problem-solution ads from Ogilvy & Mather, New York. That includes Visible Care Body Wash launched in early 2011, which brought Dove to record share in the category. Dove Men + Care has stuck on shelves and expanded into deodorant with ads featuring the "Journey to Comfort" of such sports figures as Kirk Herbstreit.

Rob Candelino, director of U.S. skin-care marketing, who's led much of the charge, notes the men's ads and "Dove-like, charming" and "Make Friends with Your Hair" work as areas where the brand goes beyond demographics to strike emotional chords.

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