Dawn with Marina Maher


Though consumers understood Dawn Dishwashing Liquid’s core equity [tough on grease], they were unaware of its value proposition: just a little Dawn cleans lots of dishes. As a result, consumers were being lured by lower priced products in larger-sized bottles that appeared to offer more value.

Dawn turned to Marina Maher Communications Inc. (MMC) with a challenge: lead an integrated communications campaign that would illustrate – in a unique, dramatic and breakthrough way – that Dawn’s Lift Action formula is the best value (just one 25-oz. bottle cleans more than 10,000 dishes).


The campaign would need to meet three critical criteria: generate national awareness of the value claim, create relevance for consumers (including the large and growing Hispanic market) and be easily integrated with other marketing disciplines.


To allow consumers to “see” and “believe” Dawn’s cleaning power, MMC developed a massive event “torture test” concept that told the story: Dawn Goes The Distance (Dawn Supera la Distancia). The key visual – providing news/media value, advertising content and consumer interaction – was to use Daredevil Robbie Knievel, son of legendary Evel Knievel, to attempt to jump over 10,000 dishes – all cleaned with just one 25-ounce bottle of Dawn! Using Knievel allowed MMC to establish the positioning of: it takes a daredevil to attempt to beat what Dawn can accomplish.

The four-pronged integrated marketing effort featured a giant festival and wash-a-thon – staged at California’s Irwindale Speedway (a recognized motorcross authority) – and provided highly-visual footage for a new advertising campaign. Key elements included:

  • Credible, eating/washing event (where attendees witnessed the 10,000 dishwashing claim)
  • Hispanic market location (Los Angeles, home to a large U.S. Hispanic population)
  • “Wow” visual for media coverage and advertising shoot (associating the low-interest category of dishwashing with the excitement of a daredevil motocross attempt)
  • Celebrity spokespeople (Knievel to communicate brand value message and Hispanic celebrity host to emotionally connect with Hispanic target audience)


More than 5,000 bi-lingual flyers were distributed in-market and an ANR, airing pre-event, garnered attendance of 1,685 consumers. Irwindale Speedway marquee signage was seen by 525,000 LA-area consumers/drivers over five days. In addition, 1,700 product samples were distributed at the event.

The MMC campaign generated 67 million consumer impressions in just one week. Over 575 TV placements spotlighted Dawn in general market and Hispanic outlets, including CNN’s Headline News, American Morning and Airport; ESPN Sportscenter; Fox News Live, Univision’s Despierta America and Telemundo’s Al Rojo Vivo with María Celeste. Coverage saturated all top 10 ADI markets in the U.S.

Radio coverage included 484 stories; while Dawn’s photo ran on the AP Wire Service and the L.A. Times featured the Dawn story and brand name – highly unusual for a low-interest category in the nation’s third largest newspaper.

TV advertising launched January 12, 2004 and Dawn’s brand manager reported: “The Dawn Mileage program creates a permanent impression in consumers’ minds about Dawn’s long lasting performance in a way that no competitor can challenge or match…The program generated results well beyond our expectations.”