4doveANow this is a campaign to get inspired by! The 19 Awards at Cannes Lions are well deserved - after all, the video ad is today the most viewed online video ad ever with over 165,000,000 views. Not only has the film been viewed in record numbers around the world, it is also the most shared video ad in over a year.

Fernando Machado, global brand development VP Dove Skin at Unilever, speaking at the Cannes Lions festival said: “It wasn’t like anything we had ever seen with a regular TV campaign. We knew that we had something special with Dove Real Beauty Sketches, but didn’t just wait around for the magic to happen. Strategically, we felt that the film would reach the most scale on YouTube and quickly put a clever paid media strategy in place to increase exposure of the campaign. We worked nimbly and broke every rule in the Unilever book on how to deploy campaigns. As a result, we were able to ride the wave of interest and scale the campaign globally.”

The approach with YouTube’s TrueView product – enabling Unilever to pay only once a user had decided to not to skip and then watch at least 30 seconds of the 3 minute film – supported and drove reach for content that was already strong enough to really resonate and connect emotionally with consumers, resulting in highly efficient scale.

Joel Pearson, Innovation Director at PHD (the media agency of Unilever) said, “Crucial to our strategy working globally was the ability to be nimble, responsive and operate centrally. Our global control centre enabled real-time monitoring, optimisation and response to media performance, conversations, sentiment and content distribution. All activity was monitored daily, and activity was optimised against cost, interaction and engagement, market penetration, and pace of delivery – ensuring that Dove Real Beauty Sketches was being seen by the right people, in the right place, at the right time” continued Pearson.

Now all the clever marketing strategy and PR work is surely part of the success formula, but my personal opinion is that what makes this ad so successful is that it really touches people in the very personal space of self-esteem and value. It reaches out to people in a very personal manner, showing very personal and touching emotions almost everyone relates to immediately. The idea itself is highly creative, and the message is not: "you‘ll look better if you use our product", instead the message is "you‘re more beautiful than you think, and here‘s the proof".


That Dove sells beauty products, is a given, but it is not in focus of the campaign. This brilliant campaign must have given an incredible image boost to the company. Well done! Again, it‘s really about unique, creative content that touches hearts!

And here are the 19 awards won by the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign:
  1. Titanium Grand Prix – Dove Real Beauty Sketches
  2. Gold Lion, Titanium & Integrated – Dove Real Beauty Sketches
  3. Gold Lion, Film – Dove Real Beauty Sketches
  4. Gold Lion, Branded Content and Entertainment – Best Non-Fiction Program, Series, or Film where client has successfully created a reality, documentary, or entertainment show around a product or brand – Dove Real Beauty Sketches
  5. Gold Lion, Promo and Activation - Best use of Social Media Marketing in a Promotional Campaign - Dove Real Beauty Sketches
  6. Gold Lion, Promo and Activation - Corporate Image & Information – Dove Real Beauty Sketches
  7. Gold Lion, PR – Best use of Social Media – Dove Real Beauty Sketches
  8. Gold Lion, PR – Best Integrated Campaign Led by PR – Dove Real Beauty Sketches
  9. Gold Lion, Media, Best Use of Social Media – Dove Real Beauty Sketches

10. Gold Lion, Cyber, Online Video - Dove Real Beauty Sketches

11. Gold Lion, Press – Dove Real Beauty Sketches

12. Silver Lion, Direct - Best Use of Digital Direct Marketing Social Media & Viral Marketing – Dove Real Beauty Sketches

13. Silver Lion, Direct - Product & Service Corporate Image & Information – Dove Real Beauty Sketches - Silver Lion, Design Dove Real Beauty Sketches

14. Bronze Lion, Direct - Best Integrated Campaign - Dove Real Beauty Sketches

15. Bronze Lion, Media, Best Use of Integrated Media – Dove Real Beauty Sketches

16. Bronze Lion, Media, Corporate Image & Information – Dove Real Beauty Sketches - Bronze Lion, Outdoor, Billboards & Street Furniture – Dove

17. Bronze Lion, Cyber, Best video - Dove Real Beauty Sketches

By Anjum Siddiqi