I’ve mentioned Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty that encourages self esteem for young girls. It’s smart, it zags when everyone else is zigging, and as the father of young daughter it makes me want to stand up and cheer.
But of course, Responsible Marketing is never black and white.
Dove’s parent company, Unilever, has been taking a beating on the public relations front by Greenpeace and a host of other activist groups for buying from companies that are harvesting Indonesian rain forests to extract palm oil.
Greenpeace took inspiration from Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, creating new viral videos to deliver their message.
Here’s Dove’s “Onslaught” ad:
And here’s the Greenpeace ad, Dove Onslaught(er):
But this story has a happier ending than you might think. Love or hate Greenpeace, their methods are effective, and on May 1, Unilever CEO Patrick Cescau announced a move to certified sustainable palm oil.
Here’s an excerpt from Cescau’s speech at the Prince of Wales’ May Day Climate Change Summit in London:
Palm oil is an important raw material for us and the whole consumer goods industry. We use a substantial amount of palm oil and we want to be an agent for positive change, as we have been in fish, tea and other areas.
We started work on sustainable palm oil ten years ago by developing and sharing our own guidelines and good practices with growers and suppliers, leading to the setting up of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in 2004. Through the RSPO, we have continued to work hard to build an industry consensus on criteria for sustainable palm cultivation.
Now we need to take the next step. Suppliers need to move to meet the criteria, by getting certified both the palm oil from their own plantations and the palm oil they buy from elsewhere. We also intend to support the call for an immediate moratorium on any further deforestation for palm oil in Indonesia.
We are committed to doing this because we believe it is the right thing to do for the people who use our products, for the environment and communities in and around which palm oil is grown and for our business and our brands.
Unilever has gained accolades for sustainability and responsible business practices in other areas, but as the world’s largest customer for palm oil, they done considerable damage to-date.
I have two questions:
1. Do you consider Greenpeace’s tactics on this campaign responsible?
2. Is Unilever responsible or not?
Comment below to weigh in.
Inspiration for this post came from Jeff on OurWorld. Thanks, Jeff.