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Greenpeace's Dove viral flies into Wall Street! - 7 May 2008

Type the word “Dove” into YouTube’s search box, and what do you find in the number one spot?

Not Unilever’s ads, that’s for sure. Produced by WPP Group’s PR agency Ogilvy & Mather, Unilever’s ads have previously scooped top prize at the annual advertising convention held in Cannes, France. But they’ve been knocked off top spot on YouTube by Greenpeace’s parody of Unilever’s “Onslaught” ad. “Onslaught(er)” was launched only two weeks ago, and produced at a fraction of the cost of the original.

Unilever makes a big deal of its efforts to be both environmentally and socially responsible, but has been dragging its heels when it came to the palm oil issue. But just two weeks after starting our campaign, and despite saying that it always intended to do so anyway, Unilever has finally announced that it will not only stop buying palm oil from suppliers who can’t demonstrate that it comes from sustainable sources, but has also come out in support of our call for a moratorium on cutting down trees in Indonesia for the sake of oil palm plantations.

The rapid success of our campaign has staggered the business world. The palm oil issue, and Unilever’s policy shift, has even reached the pages of The Wall Street Journal, where a spokesperson for one of WPP Group’s other branding consultancies, Added Value, noted that Unilever had been smart to respond to the pressure we’d applied. Unilever itself is reported as claiming that our protests had some bearing but a very little influence on its decision.

It seems to us that shifting its policy in just two weeks hardly suggests that Unilever hasn’t been heavily influenced by the runaway success of our campaign. The YouTube experience has taught them that it’s possible for their own brand to be outbranded when it comes to public concern about environmental issues, and that’s got to hurt.

Let’s hope that the bosses of other multinationals, reading their Wall Street Journals this weekend, take heed of the power of public mobilisation and follow suit. Otherwise, we just might find ourselves scooping the top prize ourselves at next year’s Cannes advertising convention!

[ Source: Making Waves ]