MILFORD, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Unilever has found a big platform to launch a new line of Dove cleansing products for men: the Super Bowl.
A spokeswoman for the Unilever brand from its PR shop, Edelman, declined to comment on marketing plans, including creative, for the Dove launch, which will mark the brand's first appearance in the Big Game since 2006. The new Men&Care line, which began hitting store shelves last week and will get a formal kickoff by mid-month, is certain to rouse curiosity as it comes from a brand with decidedly feminine credentials -- though it seems doubtful that a male "Campaign for Real Beauty" might be in the offing.
According to a statement from Dove, the new line is aimed at "men who are comfortable in their own skin" but want to tap the proven moisturizing power of Dove products rather than continue to use cleansing products that can dry and irritate skin. Unilever first launched elements of the men's range, which in the U.S. includes three body washes, two bar soaps and a scrubber, in Italy last year.
The men's personal-care market has grown steadily in the U.S., but not at the explosive rate some marketers hoped for when it first began to emerge in earnest last decade. Men's brands such as Procter & Gamble Co.'s Old Spice and Unilever's Axe have fared well and have seen steady growth in body washes. But brands with more of a female identity, such as Nivea and L'Oreal, have found tougher going in the men's market. Even P&G's Gillette has faltered with last year's hair-care launch, which was soundly beaten by Axe and has been discontinued in Walmart stores.
The brand's 2006 Super Bowl appearance was for a poignant 60-second spot from the brand's critically acclaimed "Campaign for Real Beauty" that portrayed the insecurities women have with their looks and urged people to support the brand's self-esteem efforts. Seven months later, the brand launched its "Evolution" viral video, which ultimately reached more people than the Super Bowl ad and won top honors at Cannes the following year.
More recently, Dove ads have focused more on hard-hitting benefit messages and, in some cases, comparison ads against hair-care rival Pantene. The Campaign for Real Beauty hasn't ended, but has gotten less play in media ads the past two years than in prior years. The most recent effort was a co-op campaign from Walmart.
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Contributing: Michael Bush