Does PRO-Age = PRO Wrinkles? What's in a Name?

First, let me say that I am totally on the Dove bandwagon. I <3 them. I have given their agency folk standing ovations at various conferences. I have watched their "Evolution" video (showing what a woman looks like before and after combing, brushing, poking, prodding, makeup-ing, and the works) too many times to count. I love staring at those "real" women in their ads, and actually have daydreamed about appearing in them. Also, the trades LOVE to talk about this campaign... and its brilliance in using so called "REAL" women in their ads, rather than stick figures.

So, imagine my surprise when I get my copy of AdAge, and see the following:
In Its Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove Tells Women That They Are Beautiful as They Are. But the Push Is Showing Signs of Aging...As Dove's widely lauded Campaign for Real Beauty enters its fourth year, the results aren't looking so pretty anymore." Basically, the article discusses how, after rapid product growth, there has been a massive slowdown in Uniliver sales, particularly in their barsoap category, and how the "PRO AGE" line has not done very well. THEN, there's this quote from a former Unilever marketer-turned-consultant: "Dove's success all along was probably more about product news than newsworthy advertising". As the hoochie contestant from three seasons ago on American Idol once said..."I BEG TO DIFFA!"

Do you really think that the Dove Real Beauty Campaign did not translate into sales? Let's be REAL here!!! The Real Beauty Campaign made all of us "Size-Twelvers" feel beautiful-- because, guess what, we ARE beautiful! And I for one, DEFINITELY bought this product as a result of their ads. After all, self esteem is cool, it's hip, and it's buzz-worthy. However, when you start talking about AGE, we're in a totally different arena:

Dove is PRO AGE? Do you think if they had done the real beauty campaign and called the product PRO chubby, or PRO hips, it would have sold the same way? Absolutely not. We, as women, identify with these Real Beauty ads because we see ourselves in these women...because we all know that most people do not look like models in ads. HOWEVER, age is an entirely different ball game. Women are not PRO age. Women can be older and beautiful, but I have yet to meet a woman that WANTS her skin to wrinkle. And the name, PRO age, says "PRO Wrinkles" to me. Now, that's not to say that women aren't proud of how they look at a certain age. But I can pretty much promise you that they are not looking to speed up that aging process.

Being an average size is considered reversible...you can stare at women in magazines and think, "Hmm...I'm totally getting back on WW, and losing weight to look like Angelina Jolie!". And so, the Real Beauty campaign works well because after you are done wanting to look like Angelina, you realize that you are quite lovely as you are, and that all the poking, prodding, and starving is not really necessary. You go back to eating the occasional donut just like the rest of the world, and you love yourself, all the while knowing there is a chance you can still be just like Angie and snag yourself a Brad Pitt in the process. Getting older doesn't work that way. Getting older happens. You can't stop it. And so, of COURSE you should embrace it. But, as you get older, all that poking, prodding, and ANTI aging feels much more necessary. And so, while you embrace it, you work harder at looking like you don't.

I sincerely believe that if Dove had re-named this brand "Ageless" or "Timeless" or something along these lines, they could keep this message and this campaign and it would be far more lovely. What about "Pro Real" for an overall umbrella? Keep the campaign. Change the product name. See what happens, Dove.

And, as for your Bar Soap decline? Get with it, AdAge...it's a declining CATEGORY. We women love us some body wash!

The campaign gets three bees. It's daring, it's beautiful, but I just can't support your product name.

Dove Pro Age Campaign
Three out of Five Bees