1. What is a brand? Why does Unilever want fewer of them?

Brands, as defined by Silk are names or symbols that marketers have introduced to make product differentiation concrete. Branding is a process by which both a brand and brand identity are developed and established on a market, it involves selecting and blending tangible and intangible attributes to differentiate the product, service, company or brand in a meaningful and compelling way. Brand Equity is the value created by the brand, measured by how much more the consumers are willing to pay for a product of a particular brand compared to the same product of a generic brand.

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In February 2000, Unilever faced an important challenge. In the past years, it had grown globally with over 1,600 brands most of them managed locally. This decentralization had contributed to problems of control and loss of identity. Under the Masterbrand strategy, only 400 umbrella brands later called “Masterbrands“ would be pushed forward creating global vision among their diverse geographic markets. By cleaning their brand portfolio Unilever would be able to focus resources into building stronger brands.

2.What was Dove’s positioning in the 1950´s? What is its positioning in 1970?

Dove´s positioning in the 1950´s was merely based in functional attributes. Dove´s main claim in this decade was that it would not dry out your skin the way soap did because it was not technically soap at all. Its communication strategy, developed by Ogilvy And Mather supported this claim by portraying cream being poured into a tablet. This positioning changed very slightly in over 30 years, a few adjectives were added, the term “cleansing cream“ was replaced with “moisturizing cream“ but overall the benefit was still the same: Dove was not a soap and it would not dry your skin.

After Dove became a Masterbrand in the year 2000, it was required that the brand concept could be extended beyond a beauty bar to other product categories such as shampoos, deodorants. Etc. Dove could no longer communicate functional superiority as it meant different things in different product categories. This is when the brand developed a new concept with the “Campaign for Real Beauty”

3.How did Unilever organize to do product category management and brand management in Unilever before 2000? What was the corresponding structure after 2000? How was brand meaning controlled before 2000 and how is it controlled at the time of the case? Before 2000, each brand was developed and managed locally, deriving in many resources being drained from the organization. A local brand manager for a small ice cream brand was in charge of setting a long term strategy as well as achieving the short term results. The new Masterbrand strategy introduced in 2000, allowed Unilever´s marketing teams to reorganize into two branches.

A Brand Development area ran the branding process. This group was in charge of creating brand messaging, innovation in the product category and brand health. They were accountable for the mid to long- term market share. A Brand Building area based in each of the local markets was in charge of executing local strategies to bring the “brand to life“ in their marketplace but always keeping congruency with what the Brand Development team had established as key messages. They were in charge of hiring advertising agencies and media in order to achieve the growth, profit, cash flow and short-term market share for the brand.

4.Spend a little time searching blogs, using Google Blog Search, Technorati, BlogRunner, or any other blog search engines, to get a sense of what people are saying about Dove today. What does this discussion contribute to the meaning of the brand? One can find many opinions in the blogosphere, but one interesting debate has sparked surrounding the Dove Movement for Self Esteem. This is an initiative by the Brand self described as “a movement in which girls and women everywhere have the tools to take action and inspire others to reach their full potential.“ Some blogs have reacted quite negatively to this initiative, mainly because of the parent company that owns Dove: Unilever.

As Unilever is a company that owns many other brands such as Axe, Ponds, Slim Fast, etc. These are brands that portray precisely the female image that The Dove Movement for Self Esteem is trying to fight it seems to bloggers that this is quite a hypocritical move from Unilever. They don’t trust Dove anymore, they believe that a company that contributes to advertising that attacks self esteem cannot have serious attempts to build self esteem for women with another brand. I believe this situation is very difficult to tackle, most consumers are not aware of the parent company to all these brands and don´t connect one brand´s positioning to another’s, but to the few that do, this is inadmissible.

5.Footnote 1 of the case leads you to a blogger who asks, with reference to the age of YouTube advertising, “Is marketing now cheap, fast and out of control?” Footnote 2 refers to Dove as having started a conversation “that they don’t have control of.” In “When Tush comes to Dove,” Seth Stevenson writes about the “risky bet that Dove is making”. Do you see risks for the Dove brand today?

Opening up the conversation cannot be seen as a risk for the brand, but not having a clear direction or a point of view is a brand´s greatest risk. We do not believe that the use You Tube of digital media where consumers can express freely their opinions towards the brand represent a threat to Dove. Contrary to what the article “Is marketing now cheap, fast and out of control?“ proposes, where it is unclear if mass media is dead, we believe that the media mix used by advertisers is now more important than ever. Segmentation and an intelligent selection of media channels is key, but most important is the message one is conveying in order to attract attention.

As to the article “When Tush comes to Dove“ dated 2005 which doomed Dove´s strategy in the long run, we believe that the brand´s results have clearly proved the opposite. Dove is one of the 12 €1bn Unilever brands, and quadrupled its turnover between 2007 and 2010. We believe Dove´s greatest risk is failing to innovate and falling back into the old habit of describing only functional benefits. Their current campaign in Mexico invites consumers to experience Dove´s Facial Test – proving that Dove doesn´t dry out skin the way soap does. This rings a bell, and even the print ads resemble the old 1950 advertisements. This is their greatest risk.