In 2006—just one year after the launch of YouTube—an online video went viral before “viral” was even a thing. The video wasn’t exploding watermelons or conniving cats. It was “Evolution,” the first video in Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty.
Developed to “start a conversation about beauty,” Dove’s campaign didn’t launch with unanimous approval. Many critics recognized the hypocrisy of a beauty brand telling women they’re perfect just the way they are…but also, buy our firming cream. Others noted that Unilever, Dove’s parent company, also owns Axe, a brand known for using sexist tropes and misogyny in its advertising.
Nonetheless, Dove didn’t back down. It stood behind its new brand direction with confidence. Nearly 15 years after its initial launch, Dove has created the most watched video ad of all time, increased its sales and brand equity, and most importantly, helped fuel a body positivity movement.
Creating a disruptive brand takes guts. Owning that brand in the face of criticism takes confidence. Being successful requires both.