Dove have been running a rather stupid advert showing the difference between Dove and ordinary soap.  They put some coloured paper in the shape of a woman on bars of soap and left them on the soap bar.  Ordinary soap destroys the paper whereas Dove doesn’t. So bloody what!

In fact this Dove Soap commercial provoked complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency in the UK.  The complaints were that the advert was misleading. I am inclined to think that the advert may way have been misleading in some ways.  But the ASA line was that the results shown were a true reflection of the testing carried out.  I suppose that is true.  The ASAs remit is to prevent deceptive adverts.  We don’t have a body that stops adverts that are annoying or condescending.

The truth is that Dove is not in fact soap and is milder than soap in some ways.  I have pointed out before that soap is inherently drying.  Dove is based on a different chemical, sodium cocoyl isethionate.  In a direct comparison with soap if you measured it objectively you would probably find that Dove would not be as drying as straight soap would.  I don’t doubt that Unilever have that data on file somewhere.  I don’t know exactly how the advert was contrived, but I am equally happy to believe that you can find a way of treating paper that makes it susceptible to being broken down by soap.  Whether that suggests that Dove is milder to your skin or not is a completely different question.

So is Dove better than soap?  If the big problem with soap was its drying effect then maybe so.  But it has to be said, the drying effect of soap isn’t something that troubles a lot of people, and many have used soap all their lives and never noticed it.

This has in fact always been a bit of a weakness of the Dove Soap offering. Its unique selling point is not especially unique nor that much of a selling point.  Emphasising it with the notion that Dove contains moisturising cream serves to baffle the end still more.  So is it a bar of soap with moisturising cream in it?  So do I stop using moisturising cream?  Or does it mean I don’t need to use it if I don’t use moisturising cream?

Basically it is a marketing nightmare.

On top of that there is the slightly strange feel it leaves on the skin.   Some people like this, and others don’t.  I know that Unilever has had a devil of a job marketing this product in the UK where for some reason it has never caught on like it has in the US.

I can’t speak for other users but the sticking point for me is that it leaves a funny feeling on my skin after using it. I can imagine that some people would actually like that, but it doesn’t appeal me.

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