The people of Hamburg know that the Dove is a branch of the Elbe. There is also a river by that name in Suffolk, England, and a lunar crater named after physicist Henry William Dove. But that is not what is meant here. This article is dedicated to the soap and cosmetics brand Dove, the one with the dove in its logo. This would already clarify the meaning of the name because “dove” is English and is known to mean “dove”, which incidentally means the “white dove”; the gray one is called “pigeon”.

But how did this animal’s name come about? During the Korean War, more and more US Navy soldiers complained about bad soap. The US Marine Corps then held a tender. They were looking for a soap that also produces foam when used with seawater. Unilever won this pitch with a soap that was 1/4 moisturizing cream and thus created enough lather even in very hard and very salty water. This product, which initially had no name – because a procurement number was enough for the military – was very well received by the soldiers.

Name should be far from anything “soldier”.

This also prompted Unilever to think about a “civilian” marketing of the product. The aim was to avoid any echoes of the military, because which woman would like to wash herself with a “soldier’s soap”? Therefore, a name was sought that was as far away as possible from anything “soldier”. It is no longer known who exactly came up with the name in the company, but you can hardly leave the military behind more than with a “peace dove”. So they decided on the name “Dove”.

But Unilever went one step further. Because the term “soap” was previously associated with cleanliness but hardly with care, Unilever decided on a new wording and called the product “Beauty Bar”. The market launch of this “beauty bar” was initially only in the USA and Canada in 1957. In Germany, they didn’t want to start with an English name and launched a similar product under the name “Lux”. This brand name had been owned by the predecessor company Lever since 1909 and was introduced in Germany in the 1960s with the well-known face of the actress Marianne Koch, among others.

Campaign with “curvy” models

Lux is still in the Unilever range today, but no longer in Germany. Dove actually only joined us after the 1991 reunion. The brand became particularly well-known through new advertising strategies. In 2005, for example, a major campaign with “curvy” models that deliberately positioned itself outside of the usual ideals of beauty caused a stir.

A bit unfortunate for the Dove brand is the fact that there is also a Mars chocolate caramel bar under the same name, although it’s not entirely clear who is more disadvantaged by this naming coexistence. In terms of trademark law, there is no recourse against each other, since different classes of goods are protected in each case.

Many consumers do not associate logo with pigeon

A survey of the English advertising language in Germany a few years ago found that the Dove name is not reflected by the majority of consumers here.

That means, despite school English and a pigeon silhouette in the logo, many do not associate the brand with pigeons at all. But that’s not important at all and maybe that’s a good thing because pigeons don’t have an exclusively positive image. There are now a variety of care products for skin and hair under the Dove brand; since 2010 also been for men. However, Dove advertising has so far avoided using “curvy” male models.

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