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To ignite a global conversation about the definition of beauty, Dove launched Dove Real Beauty Sketches, a three-minute YouTube film about how women view themselves. Moving and poignant, the video received 163 million global views, topped our Cannes YouTube Ads Leaderboard and won the Titanium Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Read about how a combination of great content, YouTube Brand Channels and YouTube and Google ads led to this beautiful success.


Build brand love and loyalty

Turn beauty into a source of confidence, not anxiety, for women


Produced a three minute video, Dove Real Beauty Sketches, which was uploaded in 25 languages to 46 Dove YouTube channels

Launched video globally with the support of TrueView in-stream, TrueView in-search, YouTube homepage masthead, and search ads

Encouraged audience participation through YouTube brand channels, YouTube video responses, Google+ Hangouts, and a Google+ page


The most watched online ad ever, according to Unilever, with over 163 million views globally

4.6 billion media impressions; reached 275,000 followers on Google+

#1 on the Cannes YouTube Ads Leaderboard and won Titanium Grand Prix at 2013 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity

Dove believes in celebrating beauty in its diversity and, in doing so, raising the self-esteem of women and young girls globally. Featuring real women in advertising has been an integral part of the Dove brand’s DNA—dating back to the introduction of the Dove Beauty Bar in 1957.

Dove launched the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004 based on the findings of a major global study, The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report. The brand ignited a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after the study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable. In 2006, when Spain banned overly thin models from its runways, Dove responded on YouTube with a compelling short film, Evolution, depicting the transformation of a real woman into a model and promoting awareness of how unrealistic perceptions of beauty are created.

The way women see themselves is dramatically different from how others perceive them. Only 4% of women globally consider themselves beautiful and 54% agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic. In 2013, Dove conducted a compelling social experiment to bring this to life. Documented in a short film, Dove Real Beauty Sketches explores how women view their own beauty in contrast to what others see.

The film, created by Ogilvy & Mather Brazil, features an FBI-trained sketch artist drawing a woman’s portrait according to her own self-description. He then sketches a portrait of the same woman according to a stranger’s description of her. Throughout, the artist never lays eyes on the women themselves, and neither the artist nor women know about the social experiment.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches struck an emotional chord with millions of women who recognize that when it comes to how they look, the biggest beauty pressure is the pressure they put on themselves. Aggregating views across YouTube and other platforms, the film quickly became the most viewed online video ad of all time, according to Unilever, with over 163 million global views. It is also, according to Unruly Media, the most shared video ad in over a year with over four million shares across a variety of platforms, and the third most shared film of all time.

We knew that we had something magical with Dove Real Beauty Sketches and felt that strategically it would reach the most scale on YouTube and online.

Spreading the Message through YouTube and Google

The original brief from Dove did not specify the type of media to be used, but Ogilvy, PHD and Unilever collectively agreed that YouTube would be the most effective platform to launch the three-minute film. YouTube provided an authentic way for viewers to engage in and share the experience. Fernando Machado, Global VP Dove Skin said, “We knew that we had something magical with Dove Real Beauty Sketches and felt that strategically it would reach the most scale on YouTube and online. The moment that the film was uploaded to the Dove YouTube channel, it quickly started to gain traction around the world with men, women, media and even other brands sharing the film.”

Dove Real Beauty Sketches launched in four key markets, U.S., Canada, Brazil and Australia and was then rolled out across additional countries. The film was uploaded in 25 languages to 46 Dove YouTube channels and quickly amassed global reach and buzz. Dove supported this in the following ways:

  • Increased global investment in TrueView in-stream. TrueView allows users to choose whether or not to watch the video, so Dove knew they were reaching an engaged audience and saw paid views drive earned views. Dove also saw eight million follow-on views from TrueView alone.
  • Added a YouTube homepage masthead in the US, in partnership with Mindshare, giving Dove 100% share of voice for a day on
  • Anticipated search lift and made sure they captured interested audiences actively looking for them. They added Search and TrueView in-search, gathering hand-raisers from both and
Dove Real Beauty Sketches
Dove Real Beauty Sketches

YouTube and Google also provided Dove with a platform to encourage participation from their audience, many of whom were moved by the video. 

  • The Dove YouTube brand channels allowed users to engage in follow-on activity, such as subscribing to the channel and exploring more content. For Dove Real Beauty Sketches alone, Dove has six videos and over 15 minutes of content, including a six minute version of the film that has three million views.
  • Dove also organized a follow-up Google+ Hangout on Mother’s Day in Canada, where three moms and their daughters were interviewed by the same forensic sketch artist through Hangouts. The Hangout footage was used in a separate TrueView ad campaign, and a Google+ badge added to Dove’s U.S. and Canadian sites helped Dove reach over 275,000 followers on Google+.
  • Dove has even seen user-generated video responses on YouTube. For instance, meganheartsmakeup, who has nearly 650,000 subscribers, produced a response to the film that has over 56,000 views.
Dove Real Beauty Sketches
Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Campaign Reaches Billions Around the World

The film has garnered widespread attention across all media channels and the brand has been overwhelmed by the positive response from around the world. The phenomenon has been further fueled by celebrities and other brands joining the conversation and sharing the film with others. Additionally, 15 video parodies of the film have been created. To date, the campaign has generated 4.6 billion PR and blogger media impressions, which continue to increase daily. Dove has also seen a surge of engagement and conversation across the brand’s social channels. There have been over one million ‘likes’ on the Dove Facebook page and the film has reached a staggering one out of ten Facebook users.

With YouTube comments such as “this made me cry” and “I showed this to my high school students the other day. It made a real impact on them,” there is no denying that Dove has made a difference in women’s lives with Dove Real Beauty Sketches. To Fernando, the ad has achieved its goal of building brand love. “If Dove Real Beauty Sketches has inspired women to see the beauty in themselves that others do, we consider the campaign a success,” he said.

With compelling creative and an effective media strategy, it’s no wonder that Dove Real Beauty Sketches was the audience’s and critics’ choice of the year, ranking at the #1 spot on the Cannes YouTube Ads Leaderboard, based on paid and organic views of all ads uploaded between March 2012 and April 2013, and winning the Titanium Grand Prix, the highest honor at the 2013 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.