Dove Gives Guys a Break in Men+Care Push

Unilever Brand Eschews 'Buffoon' Ad Meme With Spots That Showcase 'Real Men in Real Life'

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Unilever is wading into the debate over men as buffoons in advertising.

Dwyane Wayde in Dove ad
Dwyane Wayde in Dove ad

For years, a vocal contingent has claimed that men are made sport of in advertising -- depicted as silly, hapless or dumber than women. But the marketer of Dove Men+Care hopes to turn that notion into a historical footnote with its "Real Moments" campaign. The effort, breaking this week and running throughout the NCAA Basketball Tournament, focuses on real-life fatherhood tales from Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade and ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas.

"We hear from 73% of men that they're falsely or inaccurately depicted in advertising," said Rob Candelino, VP-skin-care marketing at Unilever. He boils the common depictions of men into three categories: alpha males with chiseled abs driving high-powered sports cars, guys obsessed with winning the affections of women or buffoon dads.

Certainly Unilever's Axe has plenty of ads in category two, but that's a different target of men 24 and under. Dove Men+Care aims at men age 25 to 54 who've evolved beyond that. More of these men are taking on household duties and shopping, Mr. Candelino said, with half buying their own personal-care products and most of the rest influencing the purchases.

"We wanted something to show real men in real life," he said, and what most men in Dove's target say "is "First and foremost, I'm a dad.'" So Unilever is replacing its three-year-old "Journey to Comfort" campaign, focused on broader real-life stories of sports figures, with one focused squarely on fatherhood.

Mr. Wade, in particular, made the point in his recent book, "A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball."

Davie Brown Entertainment, Los Angeles, created the campaign for TV, digital and in-store video, backed by other in-store and promotion work from Ryan Partnership, Wilton, Conn., and PR from Edelman, New York.

The campaign will run on CBS and Turner TV networks and, along with a customized timeline and videos on a content hub celebrating the 75th anniversary of March Madness at Through its partnership with Electronic Arts, Unilever will also offer discounts on EA games at Amazon as part of the campaign.

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