Due to cultural and societal differences between countries, multinational corporations need to adjust their communication approach even when the product stays the same. Here are two examples of how Unilever gets the word out about its Dove product in Canada and in China.
Unilever discovered that a message which succeeds in one region might not in another in 2007 when its “real beauty” campaign for Dove soap performed well in the U.S. and Europe but fell flat in China. The campaign, which attacks the unattainable beauty of models in ads–models whose beauty is often achieved through digital manipulation of images– was applauded by feminist and advertising groups worldwide. When it did not succeed in China, the company conducted research to learn why and discovered that Chinese women felt they could attain the beauty of billboard models if they tried hard enough.
As a result, the company abandoned the Chinese “real beauty” concept and introduced an entirely different marketing campaign to Chinese customers. Unilever launched a Chinese version of the popular U.S. ABC-TV show Ugly Betty, negotiating exclusive ads and product placements during the show. The company tested awareness of its products after the first season of Ugly Wudi, and found that unaided awareness of Dove rose 44 percent among target consumers, a number that tripled among those who watched the program. In addition, after the first season ended, shipments of a specific product, Dove Shower Cream, were up 21 percent over the same period the year before.
This is an excerpt from Dr. Czinkota’s book Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead, co-authored by Dr. Ilkka Ronkainen.
Michael R Czinkota and Ilkka A Ronkainen, Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead (New York: Routledge, 2011), pg. 126.