A Cruelty-Free Dove: Unilever’s Dove Beauty Brand Partners with PETA To Ban Cosmetic Testing on Animals
By: Sharifah Chammas
A Model Marketer: Unilever, the London-based billionaire behemoth corporation and its Dove Brand continues to model and lead in an emerging and booming marketplace fueled by ethical and environmental concerns. This story is the first part of series of documenting Unilever’s (NYSE: UL) smart, ever-evolving and creative approaches to adapting Dove’s marketing channels, campaigns, partnerships and innovative media outreach to connect with and address its consumers’ concerns: from animal testing to the environment and the diversity and inclusion of women of all ages, diverse groups and backgrounds in Dove’s advertisments and how advertisements can impact young girls and women.
For Unilever’s UnileverUSA Dove Self-Esteem Project campaigns, the brand partnered with creative force and writer shonda rhimes, the Creator of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and Netflix’s recent popular series “Bridgerton” to serve as the the campaign’s ambassador. In addition to running her media empire, Shondaland, Shonda Rhimes, along with Dove and Real Beauty Productions, will showcase the journeys of women and girls impacted by the Dove Self-Esteem Project. Dove has also partnered with the online platform Refinery 29, a go-to site for young women.
Along with its cruelty-free beauty campaign (discussed herein,) the company launched a new environmental campaign to reduce plastic packaging by 2025. In 2020, Unilever joined 13 EU member states and more than 60 companies to sign a pact to use recycled plastic for all plastic packaging and single-use plastic products by 2025. The company also announced plans to cut its global footprint in half by 2030.
A NEW UNION: UNILEVER’S DOVE AND PETA PAIR UP TO END ANIMAL TESTING #UseScienceNotAnimals
On the heels of California passing the nation’s first Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, Dove recently announced its ban on animal testing and has been certified as “cruelty-free” by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA.) Starting January 2019, products of the popular brand, well-known for its body washes, shampoos and deodorants, will feature PETA’s cruelty-free bunny logo, which indicates to consumers that the product has not been tested on animals.
The logo has become an important visible cue for ethically concerned consumers, a rapidly increasing market that is demanding corporate attention.
“Gaining PETA’s cruelty-free accreditation is acknowledgement of Dove’s broader commitment not just to care for women’s and men’s skin and hair but also to care for the planet and everyone on it — including animals,” stated Sophie Galvani, Vice President of Dove Global.
“Dove has enacted a policy prohibiting any animal tests, anywhere in the world, we are delighted to say that our products will now carry PETA’s cruelty-free logo to assure our customers that Dove does not, and will not, test on animals,” said Galvani.
Pushing Ahead: Aiming for Legislation, Unilever Is Collaborating with the European Chemicals Agency and the Human Society International
As indicated by a March 11th 2021 Tweet, on Unilever’s Twitter Account, Dove’s parent company continues to further the cause, working with the European Chemicals Agency, which also is against animal testing.
With the announcement of its PETA accreditation, Dove’s parent company, Unilever, an international consumer goods heavyweight, called for a global ban on animal testing and disclosed its collaboration with the animal protection agency, Humane Society International (HSI) to accelerate legislative reform to end animal testing for cosmetics.
In addition to supporting HSI’s #BeCrueltyFree campaign, Unilever’s collaboration launched a multi-year program to research and develop a uniform regulatory system across companies and authorities to ensure product safety tests with non-animal testing.
With its eye on the future, the collaboration aims “to build capability for the long-term by investing in the training of future safety scientists in non-animal ‘next generation’ risk assessments,” according to Unilever. The goal of the partnership is to ban animal testing in 50 key beauty markets worldwide by 2023 and implement non-animal safety measures for cosmetic testing.
While Dove is one of its most popular brands, Unilever, owns a sizable chunk drugstore brands of personal care products, including numerous household names such as TRESemmé, Degree, Suave, Noxema, Ponds, Axe, Q-Tips, Vaseline, TIGI, V05, Simple and more. The company claims more than 2.5 billion people use their products daily and reports €53.7 billion (61.8 billion dollars) in 2017 profits. Twelve of its brands earn more than a billion each year, according to Unilever’s website.
In addition to Dove’s accreditation, PETA added Unilever to its “Working for Regulatory Change” list, which requires companies to: (1) never test on animals unless explicitly required to by law, (2) be transparent about any animal testing conducted and (3) actively work to promote the development, validation and acceptance of non-animal testing approaches.
Controversy on Intent: Ethical Concern or Savvy Marketing?
While Unilever’s and Dove’s recent announcements represent a significant corporate and global shift in the right direction, not all responses to Unilever’s announcements have been positive. By positioning themselves as “cruelty-free,” Dove would have a huge advantage in the drugstore as the ONLY cruelty-free brand of affordable mainstream shower gel or soap available,” writes Suzana Rose on her site Cruelty-Free Kitty.
Rose’s comments underscore an important, yet thorny, issue inextricably linked to corporate efforts to become “cruelty-free.”
Ultimately, marketing to today’s ethical consumer is proving to be a financially effective strategy. Unilever reports that its Sustainable Living brands grew more than 50 percent faster than the rest of its businesses in 2016. With the awareness provided by social media and a quickly surging market of “woke” consumers, corporations are waking up and recognizing that ethical factors, such as PETA’s accreditation and its cruelty-free logo, play a critical, decisive role in consumer purchases.
As shown by the growth of Unilever’s Sustainable Brands, going green and appealing to consumers’ ethical concerns is a savvy marketing tool. However, should we dismiss a corporations’ cruelty-free initiatives because they may profit financially for their efforts to enact progress and change? Does a corporation’s intention matter when its efforts — whether driven by true concern or by financial gain — saves the lives of animals and prompts other corporations to follow in its steps?
“We urge other large beauty brands to follow this example and join us on the right side of history,” states Troy Seidle, HSI’s Vice-President of Research and Toxicology.
(Originally Published on Compassion Allure, a site which was devoted to cruelty-free beauty products.)