Ogilvy’s standing ovation

The challenge

The challenge

‘They don’t go out, don’t have fun, never have sex.’ These are some of the stereotypes around older women that Dove sought to address via its new Pro-Age product line. Following directly on the heels of the global ad campaign that launched Pro-Age, Unilever charged Ogilvy with creating a meaningful consumer activation that engaged the target audience (women over 45), shifted broader cultural perceptions and changed minds and hearts, causing people to reconsider the way they think about ‘the second act of womanhood.’

The insight

In 2006, Unilever, Harvard, the London School of Economics and the International Longevity Centre conducted a global study of over 1,400 women in nine countries. The report showed that women over 50 felt invisible – ignored by beauty brands and overlooked by the media.

Ironically, the majority of women in the study reported feeling better than ever, living with new-found confidence, physical vitality and economic power. A full 90% said they’re happy, while 60% weren’t concerned about aging and 87% said they’re too young to be old.

The B!G idea

Ogilvy chose to break new ground with something no other marketer or agency had done before: Body & Soul, a play in two acts. Created and spearheaded by Ogilvy, the project began with an open call to Canadian women. Thousands responded by writing letters to their bodies which they read on camera. Some even held audition parties.

The 13 women selected, none of whom had previous acting experience, wrote and performed the play under the direction of Order of Canada-winning playwright Judith Thompson. The script, developed from the women’s own life stories, was designed to smash stereotypes and challenge and inspire older women. It was performed at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto for one week in May.

With partners PHD, Capital C and Harbinger PR, Ogilvy also produced an audition kit (available either as a boxed game or as a download from doveplay.ca), promotional materials and ads to inform, entertain and invite.

The impact

All 10 sold-out shows received standing ovations from the audience, and the play brought in a box office record for first day of sales. Over 90,000 people visited doveplay.ca, and the project scored more than 127 million media impressions. Emmy-winning director Veronica Tennant made a documentary about the play which aired across Canada on the CBC in September.

Unilever plans on continuing the momentum in 2009 by distributing DVD copies of the documentary with Dove products, creating templates for community theatres and producing the play in the U.S.

Judges’ comments

Nancy Cardinal: I was impressed that the product wasn’t dominant. It was something that the company did for the good of its customers. I was impressed with Ogilvy’s ability to put that idea together, to sell it to Unilever and to work together with them. It felt like there was no separation between agency and company, it was all one big team, and I think it works best when it’s like that.

Salah Bachir: This activation delivered beyond the ordinary to create an event…that engaged would-be and actual participants as well as audiences and the media. An impressive achievement for a brand activation.

Ravi Nookala: Very well-thought-out strategy and creative execution. Focused on the target market and delivered the message directly to the audience. Created a community of followers which touches the segments that can pay a premium for the brand.

Alvin Wasserman: Wow. Fabulous brand fit and culture-creating work. Untraditional even for a brand that’s already done untraditional in a legendary fashion. Resonates with audience, builds credibility and resonates with an elegance that transcends the category. 100% pure big idea.

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