Oh dear Dove, you’ve done it again

Oh dear Dove, you’ve done it again

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It’s been a bad couple of months for British soap brand, Dove. In May, its ‘body shapes’ campaign hit a bum note, generating social criticism rather than a burst of body positive inspiration. Now, less than two months later, Dove’s public relations team has donned its ‘crisis management’ hat once again – this time over breastfeeding.

You see, Dove has launched a range of baby products (it attempted to broach the baby market in America earlier this year, too). And it tried, it really tried, to get the messaging right to show support to mums of all backgrounds and mentalities. But sloppy copy has brought forth a wave of criticism from every front from breastfeeding rights groups to mummy bloggers. The wording in question is on the Dove website and reads: ‘So whether you’re among the 66% who think that breastfeeding in public is fine, or the 34% who think otherwise, whatever choice you make, we are with you every step of the way.’

This misinformed copy is unfortunately complemented by a suite of adverts echoing the same messages – that Dove stands behind those who are ‘passionately against’ breastfeeding, just as it supports those who are for it.

Yikes. It’s no wonder everyone from The Unmumsy Mum to the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers is hot under the collar. It’s a public relations crisis. And, unfortunately for Dove, it made headline news – once again, the brand once heralded as the ardent supporter of inclusion is perceived to be separatist.

This misfired campaign is a perfect example of what can go wrong when the potential consequences of marketing messages aren’t properly considered. So here’s our tips for getting it right.

  1. Do your research

It can’t have escaped Dove’s notice that the breastfeeding v formula feeding debate is fierce, let alone the regular furore caused whenever a breastfeeding mum is asked to cover up in public. And, if they didn’t know it before, they certainly do now! Willingly wading in to such a hotly debated topic requires serious in-depth research to establish exactly what the public sentiment is like, examine which brands get it right and which get it really wrong and – most importantly – why they do. What are the nuances in their wording that mean women (and men) love them or hate them? Do your research and do it thoroughly.

  1. Copywrite with care

It pays to buy in professional copywriting services. Getting your wording right is everything – along with image selection, it’s the most important element of marketing. We can’t overstate this enough – don’t scrimp on your copywriter and never, ever rush it. Once written, review your copy considering every possible interpretation of the wording. Don’t be like Dove, who I’m quite sure did not intend to say that they stand with those passionately against breastfeeding, but ended up giving that very endorsement.

  1. Test your messaging

Show a representative sample of your target audience your marketing materials. Seek their responses and change your messaging accordingly. It’s far better to uncover any issues here than after you’ve committed hundreds of thousands to advertising placement.

Of course, sometimes Lady Luck just isn’t on your side and even when you do everything right, you still experience negativity. The best advice we can give you in this case is:

  1. Deal with it properly

Handle negative comments quickly and with considered messaging. Our blog on handling a crisis will give you a good overview on how to respond for the best.