Dove Recognized for Real Beauty: Viral Ad Lessons

Joe Weinlick
Posted by

In the advertising world, it is no longer enough to create an ad with great visuals and a cohesive message. Many agencies are trying to create viral ads, which are ads that increase brand awareness because viewers share them via YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other networks. Viral ads can generate millions of views and get advertisers the exposure they need, but there is a right way and wrong way to produce this type of advertisement. The “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” video is an excellent example of a viral ad done right.

Within thirty days of launching the campaign, the “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” advertisement became the most-watched online video advertisement in history. The video quickly garnered more than 100 million page views for its sensitive portrayal of how women view themselves compared to how others see them. American audiences loved the video, but it also generated a surprising number of views in other countries. Good advertising got people talking about the true definition of beauty, and some of the campaign models were even asked to speak about beauty on college campuses.

Dove used this campaign to increase brand awareness among consumers, but using viral ads has other business benefits. Several major publications published op-ed pieces related to the campaign. More than 120 print articles were written about the advertisement, and Dove also received a lot of attention from television broadcasters. The articles and video clips related to this campaign have generated thousands of comments and social media shares, giving Dove even more positive publicity. As of May 2013, more than 3.7 million people have shared Dove's video with their friends, family members, and acquaintances.

This campaign is a perfect example of good advertising for a specific target audience. Dove asked several women to describe themselves to a sketch artist. The artist was not allowed to look at the women as he drew them, so he had to rely on their verbal descriptions. After leaving the room, each woman was interviewed by another person. The sketch artist then created a second portrait of each woman by listening to verbal descriptions provided by the interviewers. The results were astounding. In every case, the portrait based on the interviewer's description was more attractive than the one based on the subject’s description of herself.

Dove's success with this campaign proves the importance of knowing your target audience. Advertising executives seemed to understand women were ready for positive beauty messages instead of the typical viral ads pointing out their flaws and recommending cosmetics or plastic surgery as solutions. If you want to create viral ads for your company, you must define your target audience and determine what makes people in your chosen group tick. Doing so can help you create viral ads that garner millions of views and thousands of likes, comments, and shares.


(Photo courtesy of


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch