The ads feature copy like this:
"My Butt is big and round like the letter C, and 10,000 lunges have made it rounder but not smaller. And that’s just fine. It’s a space heater for my side of the bed. It’s my ambassador. To those who walk behind me, it’s a border collie that herds skinny women away from the best deals at clothing sales. My butt is big and that’s just fine. And those who might scorn it are invited to kiss it. Just do it.”
Um…..ok. I’ve never really thought of my butt as a space heater or a border collie – but I’ll try to go with you here.
Jeff Eisenberg: Right now these are high impact quotient ads; whether or not the message is on track. How many Dove imitators will it take before the shock value is gone? Am I missing something about saliency?
Michele Miller: In my humble opinion, the difference between Nike and Dove is that Nike will not be reaching anyone new with their ads – same message, buffed gals in the visuals, and slick creative. As for the copycat syndrome…. next up for Nike? Employee Pricing! 🙂
Lisa Davis: Interesting stuff. I think anything that makes an appeal to real women confined to real bodies will communicate empathy, and to the extent any company offers that "understanding" as part of its messaging, women will respond in droves. "Be the best you can be" – reinforcing the benefits of exercise (Nike) and personal care (Dove), while at the same time celebrating the inherent raw "material" of our physiology – is a far more compelling message than "be this cardboard cut-out of stereotyped beauty."
I’m not sure saliency is the critical factor in this – any competent exercise shoe or personal care product line would do. But Nike and Dove have been the first to capitalize on the empathy factor in a big, dramatic way. Their ability to empathize fuels the value of the brand. Shock value? Yes, for an approach that currently steps outside conventional modes of appreciating "beauty." Longevity value? Messages that speak to the dog in the language of the dog about what matters to the heart of the dog always have staying power.
My hesitation kicks in only when I try to identify with the communicated value that, for example, having a big butt means there are more items on the clearance rack for me. This smacks of making a virtue of something that I’d rather not have to acknowledge as a good thing … along the lines of telling me that my post-divorce lifestyle is great because I can now eat whatever and whenever I want, when what I’m really hungering for is someone to share my life with me. No woman (or person, for that matter) responds well to manufactured silver linings. Remove the sops, however, and I’m there, feeling understood and gobbling it up! Might just go buy myself a pair of Nike shoes to thank them for understanding me! 🙂
Finally, excerpts from Holly Buchanan’s IM with Jeff Eisenberg – note – neither one of us is going to win the "Miss Manners" award so I’ve edited out some of the less than politically correct comments, but left enough juicy stuff to make it interesting.
Jeff: Good morning. I sent you what might be a stupid email.
Holly: and this is unusual how?
Jeff: It’s not just general stupidity it’s the classic male/ female stupidity.
Holly : my favorite kind
Jeff: am I offbase? They have no substance this is just style. at this point it’s an attention grabbing gimmick
Holly: If it were from someone other than Nike – I would agree
Jeff: they are mostly style – these are still sexist -put a bigger woman in an ad and don’t make a deal of it and now we’re talking
Holly : I agree with most of what you’re saying. Without having really read or seen the ads – I think the headlines are sexist. Dove did a better job with "real women, real curves"
Jeff: Steinem agrees with me
Holly: I actually part ways a tad with Steinem on this – yes -they wouldn’t put a man in an ad, but men don’t have the body image problems women do
Jeff: and by the way, there is NOTHING wrong with that butt
Holly : are you a "big butt" man?
Jeff: it’s just that she doesn’t look like an 11 year old boy. I think most men have a wider range of what they like than fashion magazines
Holly : amen
Holly : I think the last line is the real question "do you advertise for desire, or do you advertise toward reality"
Jeff: everybody is now going to do these kinds of ads and they will stop working
Jeff: I think you always advertise towards desire
Jeff: the Dove girls are aspirational – a little bit more perfect but attainable – attainble has appeal
Holly : you hit the nail on the he
Holly: I think you’re right about the "copy cat" let’s advertise to real women – Nike has always made an effort to speak to real women – but I can now see every tom dick and harry jumping in. it won’t be sincere and it will lose all of its appeal and backfire – just as you said
Jeff: it’s a shame – they’ll conclude "near reality" doesn’t work – they won’t say it’s their lack of understanding
That’s what was being swapped around in our office – what were you saying about the Nike ads?