Case Studies

April 25th, 2013

How Dove’s Real Beauty Video Touched a Nerve and Went Viral [VIDEO]

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches video has been viewed more than 27 million times in the past 10 days.

In keeping with the spirit of its Real Beauty campaign, Dove commissioned a FBI-trained sketch artist to draw women based on how they see themselves; he then drew the same women again based on the description of others.

The big reveal takes place when the side-by-side sketches are shown to the subjects. Women are clearly their own harshest critics, hence the tagline, “you’re more beautiful than you think.”

The heart string-tugging video, created by Ogilvy & Mathers Brazil, has social and mainstream media buzzing. Here’s why brand content creators should be paying attention:

Dove is selling a consistent message

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign began nearly a decade ago, and it’s been selling that powerful message over and over again in various ways, said Dan Hilbert, senior vice president of client engagement at TBA Global, a creative events marketing agency.

“There’s nothing more powerful than a brand really owning an emotional benefit.”

He worked on the original Dove Real Beauty campaign in his former role as director of integrated marketing for Unilever, Dove’s parent company. “If you can represent a powerful idea that is relevant to the consumer, you will win and always get the sales volume,” he said.

As such, he’s not surprised to see that Dove has capitalized on this idea once again. “There’s nothing more powerful than a brand really owning an emotional benefit,” he says. “Unilever’s support and consistency is amazing. That’s a unique concept in today’s world of changing brand leadership and marketing schizophrenia.”

Dove knows its consumers

While it may seem an easy formula – create something inspiring and align it with your brand – finding something that resonates so strongly and comes across as genuine is like capturing lightening in a bottle.

“It serves as evidence for truly understanding the perspectives and mentalities of consumers, as well as the benefit in taking a courageous stance to better peoples lives beyond the direct product or service,” said Chad Kaszer, communications strategist at experience design and innovation practice, Sub Rosa.

More important, Dove has latched on to an important facet of the female consumer in particular.

Women often select brands that they ‘believe’ in,” said Nora Miller, co-founder of Anderson Miller PR. “Advertising a clear brand mission shows customers that the brand believes in its customers’ well-being, and builds trust.”

Dove is not simply selling a bar of soap, she notes — they are selling the notion of how to feel beautiful and comfortable in your own skin.

Dove is leveraging a well thought out media mix.

The campaign goes beyond the YouTube clip. It’s been shared on Facebook thousands of times, and users — including major women’s media brands — are tweeting about it or using the #wearebeautiful hashtag on Twitter. Not to mention all of those in-person conversations that can’t be captured online or quantified.

“Women are sharing, liking, commenting, writing blog posts, and response videos with their personal experience with the video’s message, and how they learned from the campaign,” Miller said. “They are watching it with their daughters, and even playing the video in class It’s viral affect shows that it’s a win.”

Backlash happens, and that’s OK

As with any national conversation that people care about, there is bound to be criticism, such as this Tumblr post that’s generated a lot of attention for its critique of the ad, saying the campaign equates beauty with happiness and defines ideal beauty as thin, pale, blonde-haired and blue-eyed.

Even if Dove missed an opportunity to reach a multicultural audience, the majority of the engagement has been positive. “I think if you try to predict or anticipate criticism, you might never move forward with anything,” said Paul Donaher, president and COO of New York-based creative agency Laird + Partners. “That is not to say that sensitivity to certain issues isn’t important, but trying to avoid criticism is just an impossibility in today’s world.”

Either way, despite criticism, people are talking about it, said Miller. “The larger the discussion, the more people see it.”

What will Dove do next?

It’s now up to Dove to leverage all the buzz and brand goodwill that they’ve generated to drive sales of their products.

“As a result of this effort, I would expect that consumers would be more likely to listen to what Dove has to say next,” said Kaszer, ” to give the brand a few more seconds of their time, and to entertain what we in marketing all hope for. a real relationship between consumer and brand.”


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