Dove Commercial

I have been watching the Daily Show (because I’m more interested in spending my news-reading time on German news than American news, and it is a good reminder that I need to not take things so seriously) and variations of the Dove “Manthem” commercial have been shown frequently.

Abe and I were talking about how the Dove Man bothers me, which led me to think about the target audience for this commercial. He’s in ridiculously good shape, has an attractive face, manly salt-and-pepper hair and beard, and is all around the “ideal” of what a dad should probably be. The combination seems rather unrealistic, and Abe pointed out that he looks very young for the role he’s portrayed as filling.

The “Man’s Journey” version of the commercial in particular gives the sense that the man has reached the end of his journey – ie he’s once again independent, knows how the world works, etc. (we know that is not the case when you still have 5-year-old kids). This is pretty contradictory with the visuals, however. The man is very young despite his gray hair, and his children are also quite young. The house does not look like the large, lived-in kind of home you see in commercials targeted at more mature men who are actually comfortable with what they’ve become (it’s easy to be comfortable when you look as hot as the Dove men, and everything in Doveland is clean and spartan as a tidy bachelor would have it).

Although the graphic design of the website is conservative, the commercial takes some greater liberties. Effects are applied to the video shots to make them look like real, dated footage. The fast cuts are reminiscent of the pace and cinematography of modern movies (design for what your younger audience is familiar with). There is a difference between the Super Bowl commercial (older men watching) vs. the one shown in the online Daily Show commercial breaks. The online version not only had a lot of scenes cut (go outside to check the noise, change a tire in the rain, get sucked into the couch, etc), but some of the voiceover was also adjusted.

The color scheme is saturated but reserved, monochromatic with highlighting complementary colors. The type is solid, heavy, and very consistent – there is no contrast or surprise. Most of the current trends in web design (textures, drop shadows, detailed active typography, etc) are missing, with just a subtle gradient and some modern characters like the square brackets to bring in some detail. The spartan design and use of gradients keeps it targeted at active men who have no time for fussy design on their soap, but still want to look hip. What manly man would want to be caught buying pretty cleaning products?

Ultimately, the commercial suffers some with repeated viewing because it seems confused about what age range it’s targeting. Based on the young people shown, how well-toned the guy is, the spartan living space, and so on, it’s likely meant for active men 25-35 who hope to be established as the father in their household soon, or at any rate want to look effortlessly dignified and capable in the face of life’s challenges. These active young men who are fulfilling their role in society are getting a pat on the back from Dove for already being so close to the ideal. However, a lot of the message about “comfortable in your own skin” and “reaching the end of your journey” sound targeted at much more mature men – not to mention the gray hair and all the clips of solving traditional household problems.

Because the commercial is also based on the Mom Song, and the guy fits well with what a woman would want her husband to be, it may aim also at the women who are buying their husbands’ soap.

Those are my thoughts on the commercial – fill me in on your own analysis!

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