April 29, 2015
What's Wrong With Dove's 'Choose Beautiful' Video Campaign
By Michael Goefron, Managing Director of Account Management and Chief Brand Safety Officer

Hollywood loves a reboot, but the same can’t always be said for viral videos.

Still, Dove’s latest video, “Choose Beautiful,” one of several released after the 65 million-views-and-counting mega-hit “Real Beauty Sketches” from 2013, isn’t doing too shabby. As of this writing, it has just over six million views.

Though both videos have enough views to be considered successful, what’s taking place with Dove’s latest effort? It has met with an increased level of backlash. Given my experience with social video (I worked on the “Real Beauty Sketches” social video campaign), I see two factors in play:

1. A narrowed conversation

Dove’s first Real Beauty campaign video dealt with how women view themselves by depicting a group of women describing themselves in their own words. The ad then allowed others to translate their words into drawings, but it let them be in control of the conversation.

“Dove: Choose Beautiful,” the video’s sequel, asked women to choose to enter a door, one labeled “average,” the other labeled “beautiful.” While the overall concept of “Choose Beautiful” is the same as “Real Beauty,” the tone is different. It narrows the conversation to two descriptions that the women can choose. The women in “Choose Beautiful” cannot use their own voices to describe themselves. Maybe they don’t think they are “average,” yet not “beautiful,” but there isn’t any other choice.

2. Faulty distribution

When the “Real Beauty Sketches” video was released, the overall impression was that it was being shared organically. While this is certainly true, Dove also implemented a distribution strategy to ensure “Real Beauty Sketches” was successful. The campaign launch was actually very carefully “seeded” to sites and bloggers that would start the conversation on the content.

Because the campaign was placed on sites that were a natural fit for the issues being discussed in the video, the sharing of the ad with others felt less “viral” and more a conversation starter.

“Choose Beautiful” was also seeded to sites and blogs, but this time, onto sites where the relationship between content and platform appeared less clear. The conversation wasn’t started by sites and blogs that talked to women directly, but by general news and pop culture sites. These sites invited a more critical view of the video itself and less focus on the message the video was trying to convey.

The Bottom Line

Does this mean that the “Choose Beautiful” component of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign was a failure? Absolutely not! Dove might not have yet pulled in the same numbers as it has in the past, but the brand definitely deserves credit for tinkering with the formula.

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