Dawn: A New Day?

After 30 years helping to rescue wildlife from oil pollution, the Dawn Saves Wildlife campaign is more relevant than ever before, amid the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The connection to the crisis is direct – it has donated thousands of bottles of its dish liquid to clean birds affected by the Gulf oil spill. So it would seem that the company has a credible opportunity about which to communicate its efforts, yet Dawn does not appear to be altering its strategy in light of the oil spill.

A few media outlets have highlighted Dawn’s support, including a placement in The New York Times and a mention on CNN. One article noted Dawn has purchased Google adwords to direct searchers to the campaign Facebook page. But, the company itself has not made substantive changes to its TV advertising messages (e.g., a Gulf-specific tag), Web site or even issued a press release in light of its continued commitment to relief efforts. In fact, the current ads were slated to run before the crisis occurred, and there’s no word whether Dawn will continue the campaign after they are scheduled to stop at the end of June.

The choice by Dawn to keep its efforts under the radar comes in stark contrast with other corporate relief efforts – Hooters has touted its donation of pantyhose to make booms that will absorb oil, and Microsoft teamed with TV host Stephen Colbert to donate money to relief efforts every time Colbert said the word “Bing” during his half-hour comedy show.

Times of crisis are bound to be sensitive, and Dawn has to be careful about how it communicates its efforts. The worst thing the company could do is appear to be leveraging the spill as an opportunity for its brand.  But because Dawn Saves Wildlife is an established, credible cause effort, there may be a real opportunity for the brand to tweak its messaging (and perhaps even its charitable contributions) in light of the very real, very relevant disaster we face today.

What do you think? Voice your opinion about Dawn’s communications, and what its communication strategy should be moving forward by voting in our latest blog poll.


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