Arnold CEO Pits Dove Against Smirnoff

smirnofftea.gifArnold Worldwide CEO Fran Kelly did a keynote/book plug yesterday at the IAB Leadership Forum Agency Summit here in NYC. His focus was that of his new book, what he calls “Breakout Brands.” He talked about brands like Timberland, VW, Royal Caribbean, and the anti-smoking campaign, Truth, as brands that are breaking out. Many of them are doing interesting stuff online (cool sites, community-building, etc.) and, he thinks, integrating this stuff well with other media efforts. I’m still not exactly sure what a breakout brand is, but I figure it’s a good enough excuse to write a book and tout your agency.

Anyway, Kelly alluded to something a few times throughout his talk that was worth mentioning: Smirnoff’s “Tea Partay” rap video spoof that became a big YouTube hit. Kelly juxtaposed the video ad for the firm’s Raw Tea brand with another video spot that’s gotten lots of attention recently, Dove’s Real Beauty “Evolution” video.

He wondered something many have wondered about such videos and viral campaigns (perhaps most of all, BK’s Subservient Chicken). Does it inspire more people to buy the product or think more highly of the brand?

“I wonder if anybody’s going to run out and buy Smirnoff Raw Tea,” said Kelly, noting more than once that the agency that created the ultra-cliché white boy rap, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, has since been dropped by Smirnoff parent co. Diageo. Diageo has since returned to its previous agency, JWT in New York. It’s not clear that the Raw Tea campaign had anything to do with it, though Kelly kind of implied it.

Kelly seemed to be going on instinct when he posited that the BBH video amounted to “brand disintegration” for Smirnoff. The Dove campaign, instead is an example of brand integration. The Dove Real Beauty message, said Kelly, is “something every communications partner can work with to try to push that brand ahead.”

He may be right. Indeed, I figure a lot of other online branding efforts intended to garner viral and CGM steam could be considered off track with the overall brand message. I guess that’s something marketers will continue to struggle with as they focus more and more on targeting niche markets.

Today, ClickZ’s own Pete Blackshaw puts in his two cents on the effect of the Evolution video on the Dove brand. Not only has he watched it countless times and analyzed it, he believes, “Long term, this campaign may be a gift that keeps on giving,” for several reasons (read the column to get the full scope.

Both the Dove and the Smirnoff campaigns have specific sites attached to them. Although, as opposed to the Tea Partay site, the Real Beauty site provides lots of opportunities for discussion and contemplation of the issues it raises, it makes sense for it to have those. The Smirnoff effort easily could have included an Evite-style party/community component, however, which it doesn’t have from what I can tell.

Either way, there’s no telling whether Dove will sell more soap because of this campaign. I have mixed feelings about it personally, but I can say for sure I’ll continue to prefer other skincare products over Dove. In fact, the only person in my house who’ll probably continue to insist on Dove is a dude.

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