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Reklama Review August 11, 2006
Reklama Review
Dove Drops the Soap By Alex Shifrin Browse author Email

Dove recently launched a mass marketing campaign, targeted apparently at the "average Russian woman." Clearly an adaptation of a Western ad, it works on the premise that the average past-her-prime woman is in fact far more beautiful than the idyllic young model. You can see the billboards dotting Moscow with slogans such as "Are women only beautiful at age 20?", offering customers a chance to voice their opinions online or through a toll free number.

In the advertising world, an "adaptation" is an advertisement that is created in one market, and then adapted to another, usually employing the same message and visuals as the original, but with a voiceover in the local language.

Some have argued that this is important because it maintains international brand continuity, but the reality is that often times, it alienates international markets because of different mindsets and cultural assumptions as well as poor translations.

This latest Dove effort is a prime example of how adaptation can go wrong. I'm not arguing against the validity of feminism in general, nor am I trying to downplay the importance of "inner beauty." Well, maybe I am. Maybe because everyone knows that it's because "inner beauty" is one of those wretched consolation prizes, like "good personality," which you grant to those who aren't...beautiful. This Beauty-Myth-for-consumerists may work in suburban North America, but not here.

But my main point is that the kind of mindset which values this alleged "inner beauty" carries more weight in other markets, such as in the West. And perhaps ONLY the West.

In the West, the big money is in the bank accounts of the older generation, and smart companies know that you advertise to those who can spend money on your products. Russia is a market where the wealth is in the hands of the relatively young. Sons have more cash than their fathers, and a hell of a lot more than their grandparents -- assuming they're alive. Ageing and the sense of embracing life's imperfections will not become an issue to the money generation for at least another 10 years. For now, the people with the cash simply don't respond to an ad targeted at aging, ugly people, while the aging demographic doesn't have the cash to make the marketing campaign effective.

This Dove campaign truly highlights the absurdity of adaptation-driven advertising. What's further absurd about this latest adaptation campaign is how the marketing people haven't even bothered to think through something as obvious as the language barrier. The advertised website for this campaign is I kid you not. In a campaign trying to appeal to the "average Russian," should you not at least try to speak their language? Or if you have to use English, at least make the site something more simple than two-thirds of a sentence. How about

The hallmark of an effective website or micro-site, which is ad-speak for a website created for the specific purpose of promoting an isolated event or campaign, is its simple, memorable name. It should be something that you can easily be passed along through word of mouth, minimizing the possibility of spelling errors. Can you imagine this one being dictated on the phone to a non-English speaker? "Da, da. Ve ve ve, tochka, kam pa yee ge he en, for rey al be a oo tee, tochka ru. Net, na kontse ee, kak bukva "y". It's laughable.

There's nothing wrong with maintaining brand positioning on an international level, but straight adaptations of international campaigns is so 1997. Word of advice for would be brand managers: the next time someone from head office sends you a pre-packaged campaign, point them in the direction of

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Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...


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