It was sort of inevitable.
At some point, people were going to figure out that Dove was made by Unilver. And that despite the high-minded messaging of the Cannes-award winning Dove viral videos, Unilever, the parent company, still made a whole mess of products that perpetuated the "beauty myth" the Dove advertising bemoans.
Now Axe is certainly one of those products, though it's clear (to me anyway) that the message is pretty tongue-in-cheek. I'm far more bothered that Unilever makes a skin-lightening cream for women in India. (Or so sayeth my fellow blogger, High Jive, who is very up on these sorts of things.)
So Exhibit A is the YouTube video above, a mash-up of Axe ads and the latest Dove video, "Onslaught." It was put together by a planner at the Martin Agency and it's already logged over 40,000 hits.
Exhibit B is this article in Ad Age, about the backlash, which, it seems, has even included editorials in newspapers like the Boston Globe.
My take: It's too easy for us to forget that the megabrands we deal with come with a history. And with a parent company. Dove is Unilever. It's not some homemade soap that's only sold in Whole Foods. There's a lot of history, a lot of older ads featuring the very same unrealistically airbrushed models they're now whining about, and (of course) a parent company that's one of the prime villains behind "The Beauty Myth."
And while I very much appreciate the sentiment behind the Dove campaign, it was foolish of them to think they could launch that positioning without acknowledging their parentage and their past.