A decade after the company launched its “Campaign for Real Beauty,” Dove remains in the spotlight of cause-related marketing. In 2013, Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” went viral, receiving over 4 billion media impressions and 163 million global views. This profound 3-minute video illustrates the breakdown of the average woman’s negative self-image and the reactions that follow. Before exploring this video’s impact, let’s take a look at the campaign’s beginning.

10 Years of Real Beauty

In 2004, Dove was struggling to find a way to build brand loyalty and compete in a crowded market. After studying the preferences and interests of women in 10 different countries, Dove learned that 98% of women did not consider themselves beautiful. As a result of this disheartening information, Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” became the brand’s lasting cause. Though the original goal was to encourage 5 million women in 10 years to gain a positive self-image, Dove has far surpassed its goal. In 2013 alone, “Real Beauty Sketches” earned the title of “Most Viewed Online Video Ad of All Time” according to Unilever, reaching women in 25 languages.

Beauty: In the Eye of the Beholder

As we covered last year, the video’s success is based on multiple factors. Though Dove’s cause-related marketing campaigns have generally been well-received, “Real Beauty Sketches” seems to get directly to the heart of self-perception and its effects on identity. The video’s combination of familiar characters, a strong antagonist, and emotion-inspiring melodies set the stage for an unforgettable – and buzz-worthy – viewer experience. Not only did Dove pinpoint the cause of self-doubt, but the brand also encouraged women to shed that mask and see their true beauty.

Dove Raises the Bar

Dove’s success with “Real Beauty Sketches” provides marketers with relevant insights into viewer response. Let’s take a look at a few of the strategic moves Dove made which, without a doubt, led to this video’s global popularity.

  • Truly global reach. “Real Beauty Sketches” was released on over 46 different YouTube channels in 25 different languages. Dove’s marketing team set out to reach as many people as possible – and succeeded. Since its initial launch, the video has been translated into an additional 8 languages, bringing its message to a wider audience.
  • Options. Unlike many video marketing efforts, Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” video is available in both a short and long version. Providing an audience with options increases interaction with a brand and enhances a video’s chance of going viral.
  • Participation. Many brands rely on simple sharing suggestions to spread the message about a video. Dove, however, took a proactive approach and encouraged viewers to participate in ongoing discussions through YouTube and Google+. This move resulted in the video earning over 250,000 Google+ followers.

Video Marketing in 2014

If Dove teaches marketers anything, it’s that making noise and gaining positive attention online require innovative ideas and powerful messages. Even wordless videos are capable of capturing attention and inciting a powerful emotional response. In order to gain a competitive edge and forge a stronger relationship with consumers, video marketers need to focus on creating original, insightful content that accurately appeals to a target audience.

What impact did “Real Beauty Sketches” have on you? Does your company participate in cause-related marketing?