Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” Is the Campaign of 21st Century

January 9, 2017


“Many ad campaigns over the years have sold soap. Fewer have tried to change societal notions about beauty. Even fewer have tried to do both,” Advertising Age explained their pick for the top ad campaign of the 21st century, comprised of "Evolution" (2006), "Onslaught" (2007) and "Sketches" (2013).

The iconic campaign was picked by every one of the Advertising Age judges as belonging on the list, and one that was described by the panel as “groundbreaking, brave, bold, insightful, transparent and authentic.” As Ad Age states, Dove began its campaign with a global survey in 2004 that found, among other things, that only 23 percent of women felt they were responsible for influencing their own definition of beauty. Ten years later, a Dove survey found nearly three times as many women felt that way, said Jennifer Bremmer, marketing director at Unilever. The more recent survey also found more than half of women now believe social media is playing a larger role than traditional media in defining beauty. The “Campaign for Real Beauty” has lived mainly in social media since the breakthrough success of the “Evolution” video from Ogilvy, Toronto, in 2006.

“Would I say it’s changed the world? No,” said Nancy Vonk, one of the creative team at Ogilvy, Toronto, who worked on the campaign from its outset. “Would I say it’s had an impact? Yes.” The campaign is closely related to so-called “skinny model debate”, that heated up in 2006 (the same year the Dove “Evolution” film came out), after Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston Macan died of complications related to anorexia and bulimia. Creatives from Ogilvy offices in Chicago, London, Dusseldorf and Toronto developed the original pitch and work presented to Unilever executives in 2003. The first work in what would become a full-fledged campaign came from London showing a range of “average” women in their underwear on billboards in the U.K. that same year. The rest, we guess, is history.


Evolution (2006)

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto

Chief creative officers: Nancy Vonk & Janet Kestin

Copywriter/art director: Tim Piper

Production Company: Reginald Pike

Director: Yael Staav

Music: Vapor Music, Toronto

Onslaught (2007)

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto

Chief creative officers: Nancy Vonk, Janet Kestin

Creative directors/copywriters/art directors: Tim Pipe, Mike Kirkland,

Art directors: Stuart Campbell, Sharon Lee Pan,

Executive agency producer: Brenda Surminski,

Agency producer: Jeff McDougal


Sketches (2013)

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Brazil

Chief Creative Officer: Anselmo Ramos

Executive Creative Director: Roberto Fernandez /Paco Conde

AD: Diego Machado

CW: Hugo Veiga

Sketch Artist: Gil Zamora

Producer: Veronica Beach

Junior Producer: Renata Neumann

Business Manager: Libby Fine

CEO: Luis Fernando Musa

Group Account Director: Valeria Barone

Account Director: Ricardo Honegger