WHY, OH WHY 222: “You are beautiful” – A topic done right and went viral – DOVE Real Beauty Sketches

Most of us are familiar with Dove, and have our own memories about the brand growing up. It can be either the advertisement of a pretty girl with long silky hair that pop up in the middle of your favourite tv show; the gorgeous smell of various Dove products displayed in the supermarket; or simply using your mom’s Dove shampoo and sing to yourself in the shower. For over 60 years, the company has been very successful with their marketing strategies. And on of the most popular campaigns that touched millions hearts is the Dove Real Beauty Sketches, which promoted the true beauty in every woman.

In 2013, the company came up with a new campaign in order to inspire and empower all women to love themselves and believe in their true beauty. Gil Zamora – a FBI trained sketch artist was featured in a short film sketching two different portraits of a few women, based on their own descriptions of themselves and on the descriptions of other strangers. There were no face to face contact between the artist and all the participants. The two portraits were then hang side-by-side in a bright room, and the differences were noticeable: the one described by the stranger was more beautiful and attractive than the self-description.The film ended with women’s positive thoughts about their true beauty, and conveyed a message that “You are more beautiful than you think”.


The video went viral with over 114 million views in the first month and became the most watched video in 2013. Dove’s number of subscribers, Facebook and Twitter followers increase tremendously. The company even won 19 lions, which includes the Titanium Grand Prix.

So..back to the question: HOW DID THE VIDEO SPREAD SO QUICKLY? Here’s a list of all the reasons why:

1. Social currency

People are interested in sharing their thoughts and opinions. Dove did not include their product promotion in the video but focused on empowering women to believe in their true beauty. By encouraging a woman to change her perception of herself, Dove was actually spreading a social message that makes them different, and references their own culture. This campaign completely changed how customers viewed the company and increased the amount of likes, shares and comments on their video. The vast audience were inspired to love themselves, and to express their feelings about this sensitive topic. The message Dove sent out has become the “common voice” that needed to be spread and heard.


2. Triggers

“Top of the mind leads to tip of tongue”. Dove has created a massive personal touch by using the term “YOU” – “You are beautiful” – the company tried to connect to its audience and show that Dove actually care about them. People then referred the message to themselves, shared and talked about how a brand successfully changed the way they look at themselves, and bring out the positivity. It generated a massive impact that people then bought Dove products in order to support a social cause.


3. Emotions

The content of the video is relatable. The video was so sincere and authentic, no products promotion was involved, and it did perfectly well in bringing out a sense of warmth, confidence and joy. Dove has encouraged and empowered women to think differently, positively and bravely, to actually love themselves and believe that they are truly beautiful. The relationship between the brand and their audience were uplifted and customers think of Dove as a genuine brand who always supports women.


4. Public visibility

Celebrities and other brands were also involved in the campaign by constantly sharing and discussing about the topic of the video. Dove created a common platform for discussions and empowerment – an invaluable strategy to develop their relationship with the customers and to build stronger brand image.


5. Practical value

The video was ensured to be seen and shared by the right people. Creating a campaign supporting women and not promoting any of their products, Dove did a smart move to gain a large number of customers and to raise awareness among women. The brand succeeded in connecting and leveraging its relationship with the customers. A huge numbers of customers purchased Dove products to support the campaign.


6. Stories

As I have mentioned at the beginning of this blog, a touching and inspiring storyline!

Watch the story here



Dove’s youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0uGC_EBwAxw3ljqeGjy2qw

All images retrieved from the original video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE


8 thoughts on “WHY, OH WHY 222: “You are beautiful” – A topic done right and went viral – DOVE Real Beauty Sketches

    1. Hi Freaky,

      Thank you! Yes I totally agree that emotions take a very important role in helping the message to go viral. Whenever a brand does any marketing campaign, they always focus on having sympathy from the audience and creating a mutual message. A positive message are more likely to be remembered longer. Emotions can be the priority element to then trigger and encourage action from the audience.


  1. Totally agree with your post. Personally the first time I saw the video I was shocked as I felt emotional connection while watching it… however, now reading your post, would you think this video/ad could have had the same impact if it was done with men instead of women? will emotional connection be as high as with females ??

    have a good day

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Paula,

      Thank you for your comment! To answer to your question, I personally think that men have different perspective and feelings toward their appearance, a lot of men’s attitude towards their appearance is not as strict as how women look at themselves. Men tend to focus more on their strength. The exact same campaign might not work as effectively if they target men instead of women. However, if the company does enough research, they can come up with a suitable campaign for men (maybe focus on getting stronger, “can do” attitude, having their fathers as their role model, etc). In the Dove “Real beauty sketches” campaign, the company can target men in term of supporting and loving women’s true beauty.


  2. Hi Linh,
    What a beautiful post! I really enjoyed reading it. I wasn’t aware of the portrait ad campaign by Dove, its amazing how the brand instills the idea of beauty in every woman. I remember watching one ad commercial by dove, which was a song featuring all different girl types singing to the idea of I am beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there,

      Thank you for your lovely comment. All the campaigns that Dove have created so far have been very touching and emotional, and they all aim at the true beauty inside of women. I personally think this is a really good strategy for Dove to change the image of their role from just being the products seller to be all women’s biggest supporter – and this has created big empathy and acceptance from the vast majority of their audience. As I have mentioned, it does not always have to be all about marketing the products, creating stories and focusing on triggering audience’s emotions can also bring back hug success for the brand image and reputation.


  3. You won’t believe this, but when Luke asked us to apply the STEPPS model to a campaign in class as a blogpost, This dove’s campaign was the first thing that popped up in my mind! Well I guess great minds think alike lol. Very well broken down and scrutinised blog post which I enjoyed reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment! I totally agree that taking in the STEPPS model in the right way can create great success! That is actually why a campaign can go viral while others are not able to. It is important to take the model seriously in consideration and ensure that the campaign can meet each of the requirement in true depth. It’s about influencing and opening discussion among the audience. If the brand only skirt through these elements, it is very unlikely for their message to be spread.


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