Unilever’s new Facebook campaign for Dove does not delete or replace rival companies’ ads on Facebook, two sources tell us, despite what the company’s ads suggest.As such, the campaign is so misleading it should be retracted. The effort will be unlikely to be repeated outside Australia (the first market to get the app), especially once consumers find out how it really works.
Yesterday, Unilever posted a fascinating video on YouTube, which claims that anyone who uses its new Facebook app for Dove will generate Dove ads that “replace” diet and weight-loss ads that make women feel bad about themselves. The messages in the replacement ads, the video said, would be designed to make women feel good instead, such as, “When it comes to your body, love the one you’re with.” Those ads could be sent to your friends’ Facebook pages, the video said.
The video specifically claims Dove ads will be substituted for direct-response “belly-fat” ads, using these words:
“A Facebook application that lets you replace those feel-bad ads…”
“Choose who you want to send it to…”
“Your message takes the place of ones designed to make women feel bad.”
In fact, nothing of the sort is happening. No companies’ ads will be replaced by Dove ads generated by The Ad Makeover app.
Rather, Unilever is simply entering a normal bid for ads, based on target demographics, every time the app is activated. Its ad buys are generated in an auction process just like everybody else’s. The ads are not targeted at rival companies slots, nor are they targeted at your Facebook friends, a spokesperson for the social network told us.
The spokesperson also noted that questionable diet product ads had been all but chased off Facebook due to policy changes.
In response to a request from B.I., a Unilever spokesperson confirmed the campaign did not accurately state how the app works:
- “The app does not hide or cover other ads.”
- “It allows women to create ads that Dove will pay to show to other women.”
- “You cannot select which women will see the ad (e.g. Your friends).”
- “Targeting works the way any other ad would.”
It’s rare when a respected advertising giant screws up with a major media partner like this. No doubt Facebook will want to have a chat with Unilever Down Under, before the campaign makes its way to the U.S., where misleading advertising law is rather strict. Here’s the video:
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