Dove “Patches” Results Ain’t Pretty. Here Are the UPDATED Facts.

Dove Patches Results Are In

14 days ago, Dove posted a new video as a part of the brand’s long-standing “Campaign for Real Beauty.”  This video is called “Patches.”  Since posting the video, it’s been viewed more than 20MM times on YouTube.  Among those that voted thumbs up or thumbs down, 84% liked it.  Sounds great, right?  Maybe not.

Compared to 9 other top performing viral marketing videos, the Dove Patches video is the least liked – by far.  The average YouTube  “thumbs up” percentage for these ten videos is 97.2% or 13 percentage points better than Dove’s 84% (see chart below).  In fact, every other video was liked by more than 90% of voters. Further, when compared to Dove’s two previous successful viral videos (“Evolution” and “Sketches”), Patches scored far lower.

Thumbs Up Percentage

Dove Patches Results

At 84%, Dove Patches was by far the least liked video among this grouping.

Dove Patches also ranked lowest on engagement as measured by the percentage of viewers who voted thumbs up or thumbs down. Only .06% of viewers voted on the Patches video.  This is a fraction of the average percentage voting among the comparison group of videos.  Among these successful videos, the average engagement/voting rate was more than 7X greater at 0.45%.  The top performer of the group, Go Pro’s “Fireman Saves Kitten” inspired 22X more people to vote.  (See below.)

Video Engagement Percentage

Dove Patches Results 2

With just 0.6% of viewers voting, Dove Patches underperformed this group’s average engagement rate of 0.44% by more than 7X. (Engagement rate indicates the percentage of viewers who vote thumbs up or thumbs down on YouTube.)

As a scientific marketer, I wonder why Dove Patches is not performing as strongly as these other video ads.  There are a myriad of variables that could impact the videos’ metrics: timing, target audience, organic reach versus paid placement, production values, brand awareness, etc., etc.  I have tried to control for these variables by contrasting Patches’ performance both to prior Dove video ads, as well as other recent, big brand video initiatives.  (More specific video stats can be found below.)

Video Ad Performance Metrics

Dove Patches Stats

Although Dove Patches has very strong viewership (some of it via paid advertising), its likeability and voting percentage are the worst of this high performing group of videos.

Based on the assumption that Dove and its agency understand targeting, placement, generating buzz, production values, etc. (they have proved to be world-class at these things before), the issue here comes down to content.

Dove Patches invites a number of women to wear a patch that is designed to enhance their self perception as it relates to their beauty.  The participants wear the patch for two weeks and document their progress – only to discover that the patch was a placebo.

Successful viral videos tend to be either…

  • Entertaining (think Evian’s joyful “Baby & Me”, or Volvo’s unforgettable video “Epic Truck” featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, or the movie Carrie’s magical “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise”) or
  • Inspiring (think about Go Pro’s heartwarming “Fireman Saves Kitten” or Dove’s thought-provoking, conversation-starting “Evolution” and “Real Beauty Sketches” videos) or
  • Informative (think about the “Kony 2012” video that informed the world of the atrocities of Joseph Kony or Degage Ministries’ compelling “Homeless Veteran Timelapse Transformation

While Dove Patches is nicely produced, and it has inspired many women (and garnered 20MM views which is quite impressive), many viewer comments suggest the video is “contrived” or “deceitful” or complain about its heavy ad rotation.  I suspect for many viewers, showing women who have been duped by Dove’s placebo trick isn’t pretty and doesn’t reflect positively on the brand.

People love to share fabulous entertainment, just ask the Old Spice Man, and they love to be inspired like Dove did previously with their Evolution and Sketches videos, but brands need to be careful that when they put consumers in their videos, they must show those consumers appropriate respect and enable them to put their best face forward.

Dove’s Cannes Grand Prix winning Evolution video from 2006 was arguably one of the best pieces of advertising of all time.  It helped foster an important, global conversation that helped change women’s perceptions about beauty, and Dove’s Cannes Titanium Grand Prix winning Sketches’ video added positive momentum to the brand’s legacy.  While Dove may have understood the impact the placebo effect would have in their Patches’ experiment, the Timeless Truths of Scientific Marketing suggests, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Over the years, Dove has done a fabulous job creating a truly amazing brand idea around its Campaign for Real Beauty.  Hopefully, we can all continue to learn from Dove’s evolution.

(Note – In this analysis, I used consistent, publicly available metrics to evaluate performance.  I only used the videos’ primary YouTube posting statistics for evaluation.  Many of these videos have secondary or parody postings that have brand value but are harder to assess.  Sales impact and earned media value could also not be determined.  One could argue that Dove Patches is succeeding by all the conversations that are now occurring about the brand, even this critical assessment. While this analysis is not exhaustive, it does provide objective evidence that all of us committed to the science of marketing should carefully consider.)

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