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Marketing the Rainbow

This article was last updated on Jun 5, 2023

Company strategy

Unilever is one of the world’s most culturally diverse companies and is committed to developing an inclusive culture which acknowledges the contribution of all employees, regardless of their gender, age, race, disability, sexual orientation or any other background.

Over the years, they have been actively participating in Marketing the Rainbow: both on corporate level as well as many individual brands. Here is a look at their Dove brand.

See also the separate articles for Axe/Lynx, cosmetics, detergents, food brands, ice creams, Magnum and Ben & Jerry's

Dove also celebrated diverse moms and familial structures with its campaign #RealMoms. One mom featured in this commercial, Shea, is trans. She is captured in the campaign along with the baby boy's other biological parent. “You get people who ask, ‘What do you mean you’re the mom?’” Shea says in the video, as she cares for the baby. “We’re like, ‘Yep, we’re both gonna be moms.’” Throughout the video, Shea and the other featured moms emphasize Dove’s message that “moms are redefining what it means to be a ‘good mom’” by sharing their unique paths as mothers. Other moms featured in the video include a cattle rancher, a rock climber, a stay-at-home-mom, a tech manager, and a breakdancer, all of whom share similar sentiments. “You are the only expert in your kid,” says one. “Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability as a woman.

Agency Ogilvy also made a case study for this campaign. One of the examples in this video shows two lesbian moms with positive comments. The results

* 3 mln moms were reached

* more than 70K comments, shares and likes

* highest engagement of a Dove launch

2017 Dove - #RealMoms

2018 Dove Men+Care - #DearFutureDads

In the same year the male version of the brand, Dove Men+Care, celebrated the impact dads have on the world around them, because "when dads care, everyone benefits". For Father’s Day Dove championed paternity leave for dads - including two gay dads - with this emotional life style commercial.

2015 Dove Men+Care, Father's Day

For Father’s Day 2015 this Dove Men+Care video celebrated men from the very first moment they find out they are going to be a dad. Dove thought that showing care is a sign of a man’s real strength. This ad features a series of 13 'real men' from the very first moment they find out they are going to be a dad. One of the real couples is formed Ian and Darryl Colvin, from Port Moody, Canada.

2016 Dove Men+Care - My Dad, My Hero

After 2015's adorable campaign, the next year Dove Men+Care released this video on YouTube to show their support of same-sex parenting. Entitled "Caring Makes My Dad, My Hero," the commercial put a spotlight on Dove Men+Care's favorite demographic: young and invariably attractive dads.

2017 Real Beauty
In the same year, the second film from Dove Real Beauty Productions was released. An all-female crew joined Shonda Rhimes to create this three-minute film that follows Kylee's journey to discover her own beauty by breaking convention and cutting her hair in a bold style that really suits her.

"I never saw myself as beautiful because that was a word I only heard to describe women who looked more traditional, who followed the 'rules'. Until recently I didn't know that word applied to someone who looked at me seemed. "

74% of women believe more needs to be done to redefine “beauty” to be more inclusive. Many lesbian women feel totally left out: 3 out of 4 lesbian women believe society thinks they don't care about their beauty.

“69% of women agree that they don't see themselves reflected in media and advertising – as a global beauty brand, we feel a responsibility to address this,” said Nick Soukas, Vice President of Marketing for Dove. "For 60 years, Dove has listened to and cared for real women like Kylee Howell, who courageously share their experiences in the hope that we can inspire women and girls everywhere to redefine beauty together."

Dove has championed #RealBeauty since 1957 and the brand strives to feature only real women, to never digitally alter their appearance, and to help the next generation develop a positive relationship with their beauty.

2018 Dove Men+ Care - Spirit of Rugby
That same year, there was a remarkable campaign that expanded the word “Care” from “care” to “care.”

Welshman Nigel Owens is one of the most respected figures in world rugby - and in many ways a frontrunner. He came out in 2007 and yet worked as a referee in the manliest of sports for 13 years.

Dove made this emotional clip, the second film in a series entitled 'Spirit of Rugby'. The film highlights the spirit and togetherness in rugby, as Nigel Owens reveals the care and support shown by Bill Beaumont, President of the Rugby Football Union, when he sent a handwritten letter of support to Nigel after he was subjected to homophobic behavior in Twickham.

2019 United We Stand
Unilever's 'United We Stand' is a multi-year cross-brand corporate Pride campaign. By partnering with agency RanaVerse, Unilever saw an opportunity to transfer 'official WorldPride sponsor' status to six grassroots organizations that otherwise would not have had access to a corporate Pride sponsorship. The promotions were a combination of brand, ambassador, and charity.

As part of the campaign, Unilever and RanaVerse produced a film for each organization, directed by Tourmaline, a passionate advocate for the trans community.

Dove teamed up with Aaron Philip to highlight the experiences of people who are underrepresented in media and advertising and show the world that beauty isn't binary. Aaron and Dove have partnered with the Audre Lorde Project - a New York-based organization dedicated to supporting campaigns that work on trans justice, community building and volunteerism - to help make the fashion and beauty industry more diverse, inclusive and accessible.

2020 Nothing More Beautiful
United We Stand was deployed again in 2020. The primary brand partner was Dove. The film - titled 'Nothing More Beautiful' sheds light on the stories and experiences of activists working with five partner organizations on the front lines of a pandemic. It was a good example of intersectionality, as the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, pronounced bye-pock) supported LGBT+ communities disproportionately affected by corona. The content was created during quarantine with iPhone.

Direct product donations and financial contributions supported the work of five charitable partners.

A digital Zoom event was also put together for Unilever employees to join in the celebration of the joy of pride, including performances, awards and the premiere of 'Nothing More Beautiful'.

21 Pride 4
21 Pride 1
21 Pride 2
21 Pride 3

2021: Pride in every wash

At the end of Pride Month, Dove Caribe wanted to take a stand. The brand stated that diversity should be celebrated throughout the year, not just one month. Just like their products do with every wash. The campaign titled 'Pride in every wash' was rolled out in Puerto Rico in June 2021, including OOH and print media. It was made by the advertising agency Arco.

Every time a person washes their hands, Dove's bubbles form a series of colors. They display a beautiful, natural rainbow that celebrates LGBT+ pride every time. So the team at Arco and Unilever PR took macro shots of the bubbles to prove that their soaps show #PrideInEveryWash.With an investment of $5K, there was an earned media volume of $300K, a return on marketing investment (ROMI) of 4300%. Market share grew 4% year on year. See also the case-study video with examples of media mentions.

2021 Proud to be me
Dove has often put aside the stereotype model, for example by showing full-figured models.

Around the world, many young LGBT people are under pressure to conform to narrow beauty standards, binary ideals and stereotypes about what they should look like. That is why resources that help the self-esteem of LGBT+ youth are so important.

Unilever introduced "Proud To Be Me" - a Dove Self-Esteem Project tool, designed in collaboration with Canvas programmes, body image experts and LGBT+ youth to address the experience of being young, queer and authentic in the world. This new evidence-based tool (pardon my French) focuses on:
* Ideals of societal appearance, body diversity, and exploring beauty beyond the binary model
* Accurate, inclusive language, pronouns and how to avoid misgendering
* The spectrum of gender identity, sexual identity and how to make sure no one is left out, or forced into a category that doesn't fit who they are
* Challenging negative body language, body activism and more

Learn more about the Dove Self-Esteem Project's Proud To Be Me tool at

Tanya Compass
Tanya Compass
Jamie Pride
Jamie Pride
Char Bailey
Char Bailey
Aaliyah Ramsey
Aaliyah Ramsey

Attention all year round
To avoid any appearance of pinkwashing and to demonstrate the sincerity of the involvement of both Unilever and Dove, a web page was set up. Here it is described that Pride exists all year round - and is an integral part of life for many people in the LGBT+ community. “It is a celebration of inclusivity, expression and trust. They are shared stories about resilience, autonomy and togetherness. It's about living authentically and unapologetically.”

Dove shares conversations with some of their #DovePartners from the rainbow community about feeling seen, building confidence in the next generation of young LGBT people, and why Pride matters 365 days a year.

Since 2015 (the "SCOTUS year"), Dove has created beautiful campaigns in different countries for various target groups. Not only for Pride, which is very easy for many brands to do, but also for Father's Day, and later explicitly throughout the year. The late start results in a penalty point, but all in all they score a 9-.

Case study: Unilever's Dove

Branche: Cosmetics and Health