Dawn Saves Wildlife – Case Study

Dawn Dish Soap is a premium price product, so P&G uses ‘Save Wildlife’ cause marketing to demonstrate Dawn’s product benefits: effective on oil grease yet gentle on hands (and bird feathers).


Narrator: “Dawn had a challenge. Sure, it was the number one dishwashing brand, the biggest advertiser in the category, and sported some of the highest equity ratings of all consumer goods in the country. So, what’s the problem you ask? What we haven’t mentioned yet is that we’re the most expensive brand. Consumers spend an average of 18 seconds at shelf and tend to make rational decisions based on price.

So Dawn had to turn to something it has, something our competition will never have, a commitment to saving wildlife caught in oil spills. The best part about it is the fact that it isn’t some invented marketing ploy. It’s the one and only cleaner wildlife experts have been using to clean animals caught in oil spills for more than 30 years.

Why? Because Dawn is tough enough to cut through grease, even natural disaster type grease, while being gentle enough to clean the delicate skins of these animals. As you can see in our national TV commercial.”

Dawn Commercial Excerpt: “Wildlife rescue workers open up a lot of Dawn — tough on grease, yet gentle. Dawn helps open something even bigger. This year, Dawn is also donating one million dollars. Learn more at DawnSavesWildlife.com.”

Narrator: “The centerpiece of our effort was a nine-part documentary series, The Big Picture, shown only online. The series showed the every day threats to wildlife and explained what people could do about it. The Big Picture could be seen on DawnSavesWildlife.com and YouTube.”

Dawn Documentary Excerpt: “Pelicans are one of California’s big success stories. They just came off the Endangered Species List in 2009. They’re thriving despite all of these issues that they’re still having to deal with.

Pelicans are prehistoric creatures. This is an animal that’s evolved over time and is specific for plunge feeding fish. When people feed them, they stop doing what they do naturally and start looking in the dumpsters. What happens with that is they become dirty.

The biggest problem that it causes, is it contaminates their feathers and that ability to be waterproof. It can make them hypothermic and it impedes their ability to eat.

At the end of the day, they have to be cleaned. We have the product that does it and it works better than anything: Dawn.”

Narrator: “Paid media drove people to the microsite. The microsite encouraged consumers to share with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. We use social media to update our fans on the program, sharing each new episode, and enabling consumers to show their support for the cause.

When our consumer got to the store, she was drawn to images of wildlife on shelf displays, end aisle caps, and of course, on the limited edition bottle labels themselves. The campaign was picked up by news channels like CNN, Good Morning America, Huffington Post, and People Magazine. Rob Lowe made special appearances talking about his support of the program and his role as narrator.”

Rob Lowe: “There are countless little ways to help save wildlife that make a big difference, from volunteering at your local wildlife shelter to attending events like National Wildlife Day. You can share this video series with family and friends. Even things you can do at home, like shopping with reusable cloth bags and washing your dishes with Dawn. Find out more ways to make a difference at DawnSavesWildlife.com.”

Narrator: “All of these little things made a big difference. They moved Dawn from a brand to buy to a brand people buy into.”

Related Materials

Dawn Saves Wildlife – ROI

According to a market intelligence report published in April 2013, the Dawn Saves Wildlife campaign was rated highest at driving Dawn purchase intent among Colgate-Palmolive users, contributing to a 1.2 share point gain.

Further, the Dawn Saves Wildlife campaign achieved:

  • the highest ROI in homecare: $3.37
  • a Consumer Equity Index (CEI) score of 168 (for “Mother’s Love”)

Dawn Saves Wildlife – TV Commercials

Notice how these commercials authentically convey Dawn’s commitment to saving wildlife while also demonstrating key product benefits:

Dawn’s ‘The Big Picture’ 9-Part Documentary Series

Dawn’s Dual-Messaging Approach

Dawn runs its cause marketing commercials in tandem with value-related advertising. (Dawn’s value advertising demonstrates that its ultra concentrated formula “has the grease cleaning power of two bottles of a bargain brand”.)

For instance, the following two ads ran concurrently:

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