Dawn walks out their brand talk — thanks to BP Oil Spill

I am sure that everyone at Proctor & Gamble (parent company of Dawn liquid soap) wishes that the BP Oil spill never happened.  I'm sure they are just as concerned as the rest of us are about the short and long-term implications of this disaster.

However… they were also smart enough to recognize the incredible opportunity it presented to them.

Dawn liquid soap is the only product approved for use with animals who have been oil-soaked.  So as people are paying more attention to the entire crisis — Dawn is playing a starring role.

And I'm not just talking about the news media shots of the adorable ducks getting a bath.  P&G has really thought about how they can differentiate themselves from the other liquid soaps. 

Let's face it — the fact that you can use Dawn to clean off an oil-soaked animal is not going to come in handy for most of us.  We're not going to rush out and buy Dawn now that we know. Our pets aren't likely to be dunked in oil.  But… we love a hero.  And Dawn's stepping up to that role by taking the lead in  not only caring for the animals affected by the spill but by becoming a voice of advocacy and information regarding the problem.

So, since we have to buy dish soap anyway…why not buy the hero brand that is stepping up to making a difference?

Let's look at the various ways they're claiming this leadership position.

The TV spot:

The bottles/the donation:


Notice the new bottle design.  See the cute (and clean) animals? What you can't really see is the little snip on the top of the label.  But on that snip, they tell you how, through the purchase of that bottle of liquid soap, you can donate $1 to save wildlife.  To activate your donation, they direct you to www.dawnsaveswildlife.com.  (By the way…as of 5/31, they'd raised $413,475 thanks to their consumers — can you say that's a huge boost in soap sales?)

The website:

When you get to the website, they don't just let you donate, they engage you in the crisis.  They connect you to photos of animal rescues, encourage you to meet some wildlife champions and visit their Facebook page.

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The Facebook page:

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Here's where they really set the hook.  They use Facebook to tell us stories about the rescue, show us pictures and promote the organizations who are doing the hard and dirty work.  They don't hold themselves out as the heroes — they are the support behind the heroes.

In other words — they're writing about what they know we care about, not their soap.  They celebrate when the animals are released back into the wild, they teach us how we can protect and save animals in our own neighborhoods and they are the chief cheerleaders for the effort.


So… why does all of this work and where's the brand lesson for us:

  • Dawn understood their own product — and saw how they were genuinely different (self awareness)
  • Dawn was willing to share what they had/knew in a time of crisis (sincere generosity)
  • Dawn was willing to let the conversation be about more than their soap (be a part of something bigger)
  • Dawn put resources behind the bigger picture, knowing it was in alignment with their brand (they give, not just take)
  • Dawn found a way to let us connect (we can donate, we can follow the efforts on Facebook, etc)
  • Dawn found a way to sustain our interest and their effort — just watch what they do over the next few months, I am guessing!

Bravo P&G.  And thanks for helping save the animals!

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8 comments on “Dawn walks out their brand talk — thanks to BP Oil Spill

  1. Jason Falls says:

    Well done and thanks for pointing out this case of good cause marketing. It seems like each case I’ve seen lately has been fraught with people criticizing the company for taking advantage rather than celebrating the fact they’re using their market share to do something good.

  2. Gavin Heaton says:

    Great case study, Drew. And while, yes, it’s generating sales, it’s also aligning the products with community values. Very clever.

  3. I completely agree – a great understanding of how to use their exisiting point of difference to talk to a wider audience. Looking forward to following their journey.

  4. Jason,

    I suppose there are two sides to every coin but I think what Dawn is doing is pretty admirable. They’ve raised almost $500K and donated a lot of product. Plus, they are giving people a way to help.

    From a marketing perspective — it would be pretty short-sighted not to point the spotlight on their product’s role in the clean up.

    I don’t see anything evil in their behavior. Maybe I’m missing something…


  5. Gavin,

    I suppose in some cases a company is “born” with a cause and in other cases, a worthy cause presents itself and is such a logical fit — that the company would be hard pressed not to embrace it.

    Either way — they now can differentiate themselves and be a hero brand. Seems like an easy decision to me!


  6. Katy —

    Me too…I’m curious to see where they will take it next. If you were advising them, what would you suggest?


  7. Dawn’s campaign has great impact of how they have presented saving wildlife especially through their coupon presentation, not as a measly dollar amount but a heart felt connection that is worth a lot more.

  8. At first glance it seems like they really are taking advantage of the situation-which is not a necessarily a bad thing, especially with all the good they are doing because of it. Job well done indeed.

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