Just one month after its release, Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” has garnered more than 114 million total views, making it the most viral ad video of all time. (See video below.)
The short film used an FBI-trained sketch artist to draw women first based on their own self-perception and then based on that of a stranger. The stranger’s descriptions were regularly more stereotypically attractive and similar to what the subjects actually looked like — hammering in Dove’s point that women are often overly critical of their appearances and don’t see their true beauty.
In spite of some criticism, the video’s self-esteem boosting message clearly resonated with a massive audience. It was uploaded in 25 different languages to 33 of Dove’s YouTube channels and has been viewed in more than 110 countries.
But how did it reach that extreme level of virality?
Of course the simplest answer is that it elicited a strong emotional response from viewers.
Dove published survey data asserting, “Over half (54%) of women globally agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic, which equates to a staggering 672 million women around the world.”
David Waterhouse, the global head of content and PR at viral tracker Unruly Media agrees.
“I think what made this campaign perform particularly strongly is the content, which elicited the intense emotional responses of ‘warmth, ‘happiness’ and ‘knowledge’ from its target demographic — one of the key factors behind a video’s sharing success,” he told Business Insider. “But, more importantly, we are really seeing social motivations behind sharing becoming a lot more important. Brands have to give people a reason to share the video.”
A video really soars when consumers don’t just want to watch it on YouTube, but they also want to share it with their friends. That’s why good content is a key starting point.
According to Unruly’s data, the video was shared 3.74 million times, which makes it the third most shared video of all time. And it even has a better share-to-view ratio (one share for every 30 views) than Evian’s “Roller Babies” ad, the previous record holder (one share for every 30 views).
“Roller Babies” has been shared 3.6 million times on Facebook, 117,900 times on Twitter, and 1,800 blog posts.
But what really stands out is the Dove campaign’s fast momentum starting the day of its launch.
“The pace of sharing for this campaign is also unprecedented,” Waterhouse said. “In its first two weeks it attracted an incredible 3.17 million shares — that’s more than any other ad has managed in the same period, including VW’s ‘The Force,’ [TNT’s] ‘Dramatic Surprise,’ and ‘Dumb Ways To Die,’ the first, second and fourth most shared ads of all time respectively.”
Here’s a graph of Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” share statistics in its first month:
Roll Out Strategy
The client also did some careful media planning.
Dove Skin VP Fernando Machado told BI that the video first launched in four key markets: the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Australia. It was then rolled out abroad, and uploaded in 25 languages and seen in 110 countries.
“The brand partnered with YouTube and Unruly to facilitate the distribution and seeding strategy,” Machado said. “PR served as a key channel, generating initial placements with media such as the Today Show, Mashable, Huffington Post and Channel 7 Morning Show in Australia. The film was distributed to top media around the world and was quickly shared by women, men, media and even other brands.”
This lead to 4 billion PR and blogger media impressions and counting.
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