Unilever to relaunch ‘dirt is good’ – shouldn’t it just drop this daft idea?

Consumer goods giant Unilever is planning to relaunch the dirt is good strategy (strategy?) across its European laundry brands Persil, Skip and Omo. One of the aims is the help consumers ‘understand it better.’

But surely they do understand it and just think it’s daft.

Dirt is good was introduced for Persil in the UK in 2005 and since then has been much-praised as a clever and surprising bit of marketing. It’s certainly surprising but is it clever?

The intention, it appears, was to get away from the somewhat antiseptic, whiter-than-white proposition beloved of all soap powder makers and inject a bit of real life into it, showing kids enjoying themselves and, as is often the case, getting dirty in the process.

No problem mum, you’ve got Persil!

Well nice try but mothers would still probably prefer it if their kids didn’t blacken their clothes (selfish beings that they are). So dirt is good’s attraction to Unilever’s core customers must remain debatable.

Among other things Unilever says it wants to ‘simplify’ the proposition. It could start by simplifying its soap powder brands, perhaps by buying the Persil name in continental Europe from Henkel.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.