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Problem Solved #18: How Unilever cleaned up ‘Dirt Is Good’ for a new generation

Persil's evolution of 'Dirt is Good' brought environmentalism to a tried and true campaign.

To mark the launch of our new manifesto – setting out The Drum’s editorial mission to help readers solve their problems – we’re christening today Solutions Day on thedrum.com. And to set the tone, over the course of 24 hours our team of worldwide journalists will be spotlighting 24 recent examples of times when our industry demonstrated its remarkable talent for solving problems.

Problem: At 12 years old, Unilever’s ‘Dirt is Good’ platform is a campaign with real endurance that has transcended continents and mediums. But the brand needed to update the slogan in line with its commitment to spending €1bn changing what it puts in its laundry and cleaning products, and to cut ingredients made from fossil fuels.

Solution: Pivot the message from kids benefiting from getting dirty and instead make the campaign synonymous with one young protagonist doing “something heroic” and reaping the rewards of freedom and discovery.

Persil’s evolution of ’Dirt is Good’ brought environmentalism to a tried and true campaign. Here’s how it done it:
  • As part of its parent firm’s ‘Clean Future’ program, Persil bottles are now 100% recyclable and made with 50% recycled plastic. The brand is also looking to source 100% of the carbon in its cleaning and laundry product formulations from renewable or recycled sources by 2030.

  • As well as making culls to its agency roster and mixing up the way it works with advertising networks, Unilever has been investing heavily in its own data to build out the muscles of its direct-to-consumer strategy and speed up product launches.

  • For the ‘Real Change’ campaign, the brand is partnering with schools and NGOs over the next year to educate kids on how they can act for good when it comes to the environment. A key KPI will be how many children are reached.

Unilever’s vice-president for home care marketing, Tati Lindenberg, says: “We somehow got stuck two generations back. When we look at the [popularity and impact] of someone like Greta Thunberg among young people, we can see that kids now want a voice and to contribute to the world and society in general.”

Read more Problem Solved articles in our Solutions Day hub.

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