Dove seeks real men

Unilever's new Dove Men+Care line will be on Canadian shelves this month, with a campaign launch slated for - where else? - the Super Bowl.

The new line of soaps, body and face washes and a baseball-shaped loofah-style ‘shower tool’ will arrive in stores on Jan. 18. The line was first piloted in Italy last fall.

‘Men use Dove and have been using Dove for 50 years,’ says Sharon MacLeod, marketing director for Dove and skin care at Unilever Canada. ‘We really did feel [it] was important to listen to the preferences of men, which do tend to be a bit different. A lot of the variants that we’ve launched in recent years have been more appealing to women. It still has the same mildness and moisturization, but the tactile experience and the fragrance and the packaging is really designed specifically for men and their preferences.’

While Unilever Canada couldn’t confirm all the details of the domestic media buy at press time, the official campaign launch in the U.S. and Canada is set for Super Bowl Sunday – the same venue where Dove launched ‘Real Beauty’ in 2006. Dove’s Canadian agencies of record, Ogilvy, Capital C, PHD and Harbinger, will all play a part in the domestic roll-out.

A taste of what’s to come campaign-wise can be found on, where a black-and-white spot reaches out to men who have outgrown Axe, asking, ‘You’ve reached a stage where you’re comfortable with who you are. Shouldn’t your skin be just as comfortable?’

The insight behind this comes from a global study Unilever conducted which found that nearly three-quarters of men felt they were stereotyped or otherwise unrealistically portrayed in advertising.

‘We think there’s a lot more to men,’ says MacLeod. ‘We’re really proud of the conversation that we’ve started about real beauty. What we wanted to do was start having that same honest conversation about men, and what it is to be a man and the images that men see in media today.’

Unilever is also home to men’s personal care brand Axe, but MacLeod doesn’t see any conflict between housing both under the same roof. For starters, the targets are ‘entirely different. In order to be comfortable with who you are, you have to have some life experience, you have to have had some responsibility in life, have faced some of the challenges in life and experienced some of the great journey. That’s the Dove guy.’

And if the women of the house like the ads as well? No problem.

‘Many women do shop for the male personal care products in their family, that’s not unusual for Axe as well,’ says MacLeod. ‘There’s no question that the message appeals to women as well but they are not the first person that we want to talk to. Men may not actually do the buying, but they do the deciding.’