Unilever's Russian dove of peace?

The importance of corporate storytelling

Unilever's Russian activities are criticised by a number of Ukrainian demonstrators using billboards with war victims, they also replaced Dove's emblem by a tank.  Despite Unilever's promise to review Russian activities in 2022, profits in Russia rose 91% in that year, leading demonstrators to argue that taxpayers' money and new laws are financing the war.

To withdraw or to endure

With this campaign, the demonstrators want to request the CEO of Unilever to stop its activities in Russia. The company refuses to end its activities, but is committed to the welfare of Ukrainian employees. It does this by offering help and shelter in nearby countries and in western Ukraine. The company also donated 15 million euros of Unilever products for local aid. In addition, it stopped all product trade and media in Russia since March 2022, except local food and hygiene, which strongly reduced their Russian activities.

"However, for companies like Unilever, which have a substantial physical presence in the country, it is not easy to get out. We continue to condemn the war in Ukraine as a cruel and senseless act by the Russian state."

Unilever spokesperson

A strong company story

Unilever wants to show through these initiatives that, as a company, it cares about the well-being of its employees, but that it also aims for social impact. Moreover, a clear message also enhances internal cohesion and the brand's social commitment. A strong corporate story can create a connection with internal and external stakeholders at corporate level, besides product marketing.

Brands that have a clear vision of 'why' they exist, have a compass to move them in the right direction. It strives for impact and understands what drives it. That enthusiasm is contagious to customers and employees, who make an emotional connection with the brand.

A strong social marketing strategy can also bear fruit at product level, with in mind a clear consideration to credibility. A classic example is Dove, Unilever's cosmetics brand, whose advertisement is used in the protests against Unilever. Dove aims to boost the self-esteem of 250 million young people around the world by 2030. Through its campaigns, it breaks the ideal image that women have to live up to according to fashion trends and social media.


Societal brand story

We can conclude that Unilever is making a lot of efforts at corporate and product level to tell a clear, strong and social brand story. Do the demonstrators have a point and should they expect more from Unilever? They certainly know how to attract people’s attention with their billboards!

In need of a clear corporate positioning? Not sure about the use and story behind your organisation's marks? Contact Remarkable Europe as a brand specialist.