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Russ: This is The BusinessMakers Show heard on the radio and seen online at thebusinessmakers.com. It's guest time on the show, and I'm very pleased to have with me, Rob Candelino, vice president of brand development with Unilever skin care division. Did I say that right?
Rob: Brand building, yes.
Russ: Brand building. Okay, great.
Rob: Close enough, yes. That's quite a mouthful. Well done.
Russ: Great. Great. Well, it's nice to have you here on the show, and I know that one of the categories that you cover these days now is Dove Men+Care?
Rob: Correct. Correct.
Russ: All right. And that's kind of interesting that's what's brought us together because you are in Houston, Texas at the Dad 2.0 conference.
Russ: Tell us how that came together.
Rob: We have a commitment to get guys to care about care. That's what we do at Dove Men+Care. And as part of that, any good marketer, when they're starting out with a new brand, like Dove Men+Care was in 2010, talks to their consumers and tries to understand what their motivations are, what their needs are, what their wants are. And in talking to guys, we learned a tremendous amount. One of the most interesting things that we learned was 73 percent of men feel inaccurately or poorly depicted in advertising.
Rob: That was an astonishing statistic, and for a brand like Dove that was launched in 1957 and for half a century stood for "real" and championed the causes of real women and real beauty, in launching a men's brands, we felt, obviously, compelled and obligated to address some of the challenges that we face in society about addressing what it means to be a "real man." And so in talking to that, what we've learned is the most transformative event a man goes through in his life is the birth of a child, and so that singular moment of fatherhood and how a man changes emotionally and what he looks for functionally from grooming products is profound.
It is, as I said, the most transformative moment a guy goes through. And so it's a natural place for a brand like ours that cares deeply about celebrating and championing "real" and "real men" to meet them at a time when they're most receptive to a product and a message that speaks to them on a level that they wanna be spoken to at.
Russ: Wow. That's real interesting and forward thinking but almost, just in some regards, contrarian to some of the advertising that I see on television. Some of it, for men, is even directed in exactly the opposite directed – the big machismo, cool guy. What was it that motivated Dove to go in the other direction?
Rob: Well, I come back to that 73-percent statistic. Guys are telling us that they're inaccurately depicted. This isn't new news, right? The interesting thing is we at Dove believe that we should be a leading light for that. We have the brand heritage. We think we have the proposition. We have the resonance in our message, and we think we have the right and the time is right for that kind of messaging. And so, for us, it may seem – and we hope it seems – somewhat pioneering in the industry, but to us, it is a very logical, obvious place for this brand to go given that our history is based on continuing to deliver new and innovative and superior care for our guys and for women.
Russ: Okay. And how long have you been going in that direction for men?
Rob: Well, we launched in 2010 originally with a range of body washes and bars – cleansing bars. We expanded into deodorants the following year in 2011 – 2013, right now, delighted to announce we are expanding into other new categories, into hair care, and into male face care, as well. We're on a mission to get guys to care about care, as I said, and we will deliver superior products in every category in which we compete, and we will do so and speak to our guys in a way that reflects what they want, the way they wanna be spoken to – in a very real, genuine, mature way that doesn't kind of depict them as the fumbling, stumbling buffoon too often depicted in society and in advertising today.
Russ: Okay. Very, very interesting. Okay, now, as you know, we have a business-focused audience.
Russ: And it's very interesting to be – in my opinion – to be in the brand-building business with a company as large as Unilever. How in the world do you, number one, differentiate yourself? And number two, a guy that, as young as you are, to be in that position, how did all that happen?
Rob: I have the best job in the world, and I say that regularly – to run some of America's favorite brands. I think I have 13 brands that I'm responsible for in this country. They're all big, and they're all important. And they improve consumer's lives every day, which is the day job of marketer.
To run Dove in this country is an extreme privilege, and you take that – every day, I get out of bed, and I say this kind of intimacy that we have with consumers – both the female and the male consumers of Dove – they are expecting superiority. They're expecting us to be an advocate for "real," and I work tirelessly. My team and I feel very passionately, but then we work tirelessly for that.
How I got here? I started out in Canada. I'm a Canadian kid, son of immigrants who worked his way up through the company. Unilever gave me a chance 16 years ago in Canada, and since then, they've moved me around the world. I've worked in various countries. I've worked in various countries and categories for Unilever, and Unilever tends to be quite a generous company when it comes to people and their development.
So if there are any young marketers or ambitious, young businesspeople on your show, as I'm sure there are, I will tell you that this is the kind of company you wanna associate yourself with. They have the brands, the influence, the genuine concern to improve consumers lives, and they give us – me – they've given me all the opportunity in the world. It's genuinely changed my life.
Russ: Really cool. Okay, well, let's say that there is a young, aspiring marketer – just heading out of school now, too. What general advice would you give him or her other than to drive to go to work for Unilever?
Rob: Yeah, the advice I give to all young people – I have the privilege of speaking to a lot of young people in universities and colleges in many countries – it's no dissimilar to branding. If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing, and what the world needs is innovative, differentiated, unique ideas. If you're young and aspiring, don't conform. Be different. Be yourself. Find out who you are, what motivates you, what your ambitions and motivations and drivers are, and then attack jobs and situations that allow you to flourish in that environment without compromising who you are.
Coming back to why Unilever has been so spec for me is never once did they ask me to conform. I don't shave that regularly. I am who I am, and I do it proudly, and Unilever didn't try to conform. They embraced that and said, "We like that you're different and support that," and that's made me much more comfortable and secure in my profession, and I think, ultimately, made me more successful because I feel comfortable. That's the advice I would give to people. Put yourself in a situation where you can be yourself where, inevitably, you will be at your best.
Russ: Rob, I really appreciate you sharing that with me and our audience.
Rob: Yeah, it was my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Russ: You bet. That wraps up my discussion with Rob Candelino, vice president of brand building with Unilever. And this is The BusinessMakers Show heard on the radio and seen online at thebusinessmakers.com.