Patches is the newest video series in Unilever’s Dove Campaign for “Real Beauty.” Launched April 9, 2014 in 65 countries, Patches (also called Beauty as a State of Mind) is a mock clinical trial where women test the “RB-X” beauty patch, discuss their growing confidence and discover the patch contains no active ingredient. The simultaneous introduction of Patches worldwide reflects the “belief that [Dove’s] best insights are truly global.” The video has met mixed reviews, praised for its creativity and criticized for “going too far,” manipulating women and portraying them as “gullible” and “helpless.” As of today, Patches has over 10 million views on the US Dove YouTube channel.
First launched in 2004, Dove’s hugely successful “Real Beauty” campaign aims at shifting women’s perceptions of beauty and empowering women to feel confident about themselves. The campaign was the result of Dove’s The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report where only 2% of women worldwide described themselves as beautiful. In 2006 the campaign featured the short film Evolution, depicting the transformation of a real woman into a billboard ad, “promoting awareness of how unrealistic perceptions of beauty are created.” The video won two Cannes Lions Grand Prix awards. In 2013, the campaign continued with Real Beauty Sketches, with women and strangers describing their appearance to sketch artists, visually demonstrating women are more beautiful than they think. Real Beauty Sketches is ranked the eighth-most watched branded viral video of all time and won anAdvertising Age Viral Video Award.
The Patches mock clinical trial was conducted by Dr. Ann Kearney-Cooke, a psychologist at the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute, and Columbia scholar. In the trial women wear the patch for 12 hours a day for two weeks and track their experiences through a daily video diary. Patches was created by advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather Brasil.
While some believe the video reflects the underlying issue of women’s internal battle with beauty and self-confidence, others call Unilever a “master manipulator.” Has the video gone too far? Perhaps. An obvious advertising ploy, the video walks a fine line. However, I argue that “going too far” is the landmark of Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, creating thought-provoking and controversial videos that challenge our perceptions and question the beauty industry. Regardless, Patches is engaging audiences worldwide.