It only took one month after its release for Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ video to generate 114 million total views. This makes it the most viral ad video of all time.

This video is a short film that uses an FBI trained sketch artist to draw women in two different ways. First they are drawn as they see themselves, then they are drawn based upon how a stranger sees them.

The key difference to note here is that the strangers saw the women in a more attractive way, which was similar to how the women really looked. The point being made here is that women are extremely self critical and don’t see or realize their own beauty.

The message in the video that connected with the audience was on boosting your self-esteem. It was uploaded in 25 different languages to 33 of Dove’s YouTube channels. It has currently been viewed in more than 110 countries.

The tag line on the video reads: ‘You are more beautiful than you think’.

So how did this video go viral?

The best answer to this is that it connected with viewers on an emotional level. Dove published a survey which had 54% of women agreeing that they are their own worst critic, when it comes to self beauty.

What is more amazing is that this number equals an amazing 672 million women around the world!

The way the video pulled responses from people was totally astounding. The emotional responses included those of warmth, happiness and knowledge, and these are the exact reasons why the video went viral.

When companies create a video with a view to having their target audience share it, they have to give people a reason to share. On last count this video had been shared 3.74 million times. This makes it the third most shared video, currently, of all time. This equates to one person sharing for every 30 who viewed it.


Dove did not just create the video and put it up on YouTube. They took the time to develop a comprehensive and strategic plan. The goal was to gain momentum for the video beginning from day one.

This was achieved by carefully planning out a media campaign. The video was first released in four major markets, the United States, Canada, Brazil and in Australia. It was then rolled out to other countries and uploaded in different languages.

Distribution was managed by partnering with YouTube and Unruly. PR was a major channel and helped generate interest and attention in the media, such as on the Today Show, Mashable, Huffington Post and in Australia on the Channel 7 Morning Show.

The video was sent to the top media outlets around the world. It was quickly shared by women, men, other media outlets and even other companies came on board and shared it.

To date this has helped Dove see 4 billion PR and blogger media impressions, with this number still rising. The homepage for this campaign has received 18,000 Tweets, 681,000 Facebook Likes and 2,400 Google+ 1’s.

What made this campaign so successful?

If you really take note of what Dove did here you will understand why this campaign was so successful. First they defined what they, as a company, where against.

This complies with the ‘knowing what your audience needs’ concept. Once a company or brand understands what their audience needs are, it is easier to apply this to your statements, messages, services and products. You are offering solutions to your customer’s needs.

Dove discovered that their customer’s ‘needs’ included considering themselves to be beautiful and to be accepted.

The next step is to make your product unique or different. For this campaign Dove was not selling a new soap with a new formula. In fact, they were not selling a product at all. Instead they were selling acceptance and recognition of the beauty in women, just the way they are. Yes, Dove did see an increase of sales in their soaps and products, which confirmed that women wanted to be beautiful naturally.

The next consideration for a marketer is making your product or brand stand out from the competition. This is where Dove had to be different. Instead of featuring model sized women they featured models of all different sizes. They then based this newly created community on acceptance and appreciation of what you already have.

The next factor deals with generosity. Does a company share content and information freely, or do you always have to pay for it? When you share freely and don’t ask for anything in return you build trust and respect from your audience. You become the go to person or source.

Dove achieved this by creating a resource center that was aimed at helping women and young girls build up their self-esteem. This resource center included workshops, guides, videos and activities. Nothing was asked for in exchange, not even an email address.

A company must ensure that the branding an audience sees is connected to those things you are against. Say for example you run a company that protects the environment, but your website offers a different view, your branding is not equal. It is considered to be out of alignment.

If anyone wants to fault the Dove campaign, this would be the area for concern. While Dove is sending the message of Real Beauty they have a parent company that owns different brands. SlimFast is a diet product that encourages women to be thin. While Fair and Lovely is targeted to dark skinned women, it is a skin lightening product.

Other than this one point the Dove campaign worked from all aspects and should be studied by any business that would love to see the same results.

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