Sometimes the toughest sell is inside

A huge number of brilliant marketing ideas never get exposed to the light of day.  Why? It's usually not budget or audience apathy.  It's internal fear.

Let's face it, there are a lot of frightened senior managers out there.  Afraid to be different. Afraid to actually take a stand. Afraid to differentiate and potentially lose a sale.  Afraid to make a bold decision.

Afraid of owning and celebrating their brand.

The result?  A whole lot of sameness.  Much like teenagers who would die rather than stand out, these decision makers block any attempts to do something unique enough to capture our attention or our hearts.

Which is why I loved listening to Ogilvy & Mather's Chairman Shelly Lazarus (at The Conference Board's Senior Marketing Executive Conference) tell the story of how Dove's True Beauty campaign got the green light.

Watch the spot (first released during the Super Bowl of all places!) and then I'll relate the story to you. (e-mail subscribers, click here to watch the spot)


Internally, the Dove marketing team knew this campaign had the potential to be so much more than a marketing campaign.  It was about embracing and owning their brand.  It was recognizing that they had the culture and the responsibility to address the issue of self esteem among girls.  (Much like Dawn did during the oil spill)

But, they knew it would be a tough sell internally. They believed in their idea enough to take a risk.  (Maybe that's the litmus test?)

They scheduled the meeting with their senior management to pitch the new TV spot (and the new direction for their brand) and then they did a sneaky thing.  A few days before the big meeting, they grabbed a video camera and interviewed the daughters of the men who would later be sitting around the conference room table.

The spot you just watched actually contains some of the sentiments that those daughters uttered.  Imagine sitting back, ready to critique a TV spot and seeing your 8-year old daughter say she hates her freckles or that she thinks she's fat.  Suddenly you are a father and the issue of self esteem and body image among girls is very, very real.  And very personal.

And the rest is history. The campaign has been brilliantly executed, Dove products have enjoyed a spike in sales and research/workshops like the Self-Esteem Report exist because of the Dove Self Esteem Fund.

All because someone had the courage to fight for an idea they believed in.  Next time you grumble about a client or boss who squashed a good idea, ask yourself how much fight you put into the battle.





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2 comments on “Sometimes the toughest sell is inside

  1. That’s so true!. I’ve started 3 businesses to-date and the first was by far the hardest. Getting through the personal fear/skepticism part is the worst. Usually you find out that the reception for your ideas is great, you just need to be upfront and share them.

    People are taught to conform at school and think like robots. People should be encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas as they are in the US..where ideas and new business attempts are applauded and not repressed as they are in the UK.

  2. Kyle Daley says:

    Tremendous Topic! I am currently battling the same fear of change attempting to promote my new internet marketing plan. It has all the required components to become a huge success and offer more value than standard online marketing techniques but while knocking on doors trying to find someone to let me in is still a struggle.People are stuck in their ways, afraid to invest their interest to foreign ideas.
    It truly was a great read and I look forward to following in the future,
    Keep up the great work!
    Kyle Daley

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