Leaving a “Legacy” through a Social Experiment

In the fall of 2014, Dove released a video relating to their social experiment and the idea of “Real Beauty.” The YouTube video, titled “Dove Legacy: A girl’s beauty confidence starts with you…” The campaign content depicts real mothers individually talking about parts of their body that they do and do not like, followed by their daughters describing how they felt about their own bodies. The mother’s beauty confidence is shown to echo through their children. This factual “story” from real life shows how the way you view yourself can have an impact to the ones closest to you. One mom said she did not like her arms and her young, thin daughter said the exact same thing about herself. Another mom said she likes to view her legs as muscular because she likes to run and her daughter was then shown saying she likes her legs because they help her to run.

The brand Dove created and paid for this promotional video and is clearly shown by the Dove label underneath the title of the video as well as with the Dove logo that also coincides with the question asked at the end of the video, “What’s your beauty legacy?” This question shown is important because it relates the video to the larger campaign for “Real Beauty.” The question presented also relates the video to the company’s twitter account where they often tweet questions for their followers and use hashtags such as “#realbeauty” or “#SpeakBeautiful” to spark discussions on social media.

The content is uniquely individual as Dove created this campaign to “launch an unprecedented effort to make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety.” The larger campaign tied to this content is innovative, original and interesting because the brand began a global conversation dealing with society’s need for a wider meaning of what beautiful is. Instead of simply selling their beauty products like competitors, Dove was able to spark a movement to challenge beauty standards and stereotypes while connecting this campaign to their brand. Society today is bombarded with unrealistic, unattainable standards of beauty that can skew and impact self-esteem and Dove set out to change that and build confidence in women through the whole idea of the innovation of the stereotypical norms of beauty.

While I found the content to be emotional and impactful, blogger Joe Lazauskas wrote that, “Dove’s social experiment films are the Nicki Minaj singles of the content marketing world. They make get mocked on occasion, but they’re built to go viral, and, oh boy, do they pack a punch.” The different sketches within Dove’s larger campaign generated a few parodies,, but was overridden by the authenticity and commitment to the brand’s encouraged discussion.

There are lessons for other brands to learn here, Dove officially launched their “Campaign for Real Beauty” 12 years ago and it is still going strong. According to a PR case study, Dove conducted their own study that resurrected the fact that “only 2 percent of women considered themselves beautiful.” Dove combined their introduction of beauty supplies with this successful campaign. The article states sales have increased as well as women’s confidence proven in research from psychologist Nancy Etcoff. The Dove website also offers insight on when they revisited their study in 2004 and revealed the statistic that the percentage of women around the world that consider themselves beautiful had risen to 4%. Other brands should take note that Dove was able to bring to light ideas that have helped to ignite a global conversation while also increasing the brand’s image and revenue.

This content that is connected to a larger campaign tells a story that fits into the context of content marketing in a innovative way and I can see it impacting more and more people over time.