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Dove Challenges the Miss Universe Standard of Beauty

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Filipinos have an obsession with the Miss Universe pageant to the point of treating it like a national sport. More so after winning the crown in 2015 and hosting the event for 2016.

The pageant maintains rigid and conventional standards of beauty. Based on averages, one must be roughly 20 years of age, 5 ft. 7 inches in height, with a Body Mass Index score of 19 with perfect facial features, perfect skin, perfect hair. This goes against the core belief that Dove promotes to women – that there is no one standard of beauty.

The majority of Filipinas aim to uphold the pageant’s standard of beauty. It is a night of beauty perfection. Expectations are set so high. Women even bash the Miss Universe candidates when they don’t meet the impossible standards the pageant has set; even worse, the impossible standards that Filipinas have set for themselves.

Yet in reality, most women cannot achieve these standards especially when the typical Filipina stands less than 5 foot tall, with a Body Mass Index score above 20 and facial features, skin and hair they are often insecure about.

Ironically, what is meant to be a celebration of beauty, a celebration of women becomes an occasion where women feel less beautiful.


Dove, a brand that stands for real beauty, sought out to build brand love at a time when beauty conversations are at its peak – during Miss Universe, risking to stand for its complete anti-thesis.

Dove recognised that such showcase of beauty perfection opens up a heightened awareness of individual women’s own imperfections -- the critical point that women need the inspiring voice of a brand to boost their self-esteem.

The strategy was to go against the flow by deliberately countering what Miss Universe and all other beauty brands perpetuated -- the promise of a singular beauty standard. Dove demonstrated how intimately it understood Filipinas by celebrating diversity through a bold declaration that “real beauty is universal”. 

So when all eyes were glued to the pageant, at the crowning moment of the new Miss Universe 2016, Dove launched a campaign that reminded all women that they are beautiful whatever colour, size, or shape.

Dove made it its mission to turn the most-watched event in the Philippines into an opportunity for Filipinas to open their eyes and appreciate not just one standard of beauty but the many types of beauty they can find in the universe and in each other. How?

• Harnessing Planning For Agility: Identifying a momentous event in the Philippines where Dove’s message of “real beauty is universal” will resonate the most and with Miss Universe set to happen in the Philippines, it seemed most fitting.

• High Quick Burn Awareness to Maximise Reach: As it’s a huge one-day event only, Dove set out to reach the biggest number of people in the shortest amount of time to maximise content and relevance of Dove’s message.

• Sharper Targeting with Pioneering Digital Tools: Given Dove’s focus on celebrating diversity, Dove elevated its digital strategy via contextual materials that drive relevance for its audience.


When criticisms were at its highest, right after the crowning moment of Miss Universe 2016, Dove launched a film showing its progressive view on beauty. Bravely opening with images of a typical candidate and the question “Why do we search the universe for only one type of beauty?” And it goes on to showcase a diverse set of real Filipinas -- coloured haired, curly, tall, small, thin, curvy, boyish, girly, light-skinned, tan, all types of beauty, various shapes, sizes and colour. Thus, reminding everyone that “Real Beauty Is Universal”.

Harnessing Planning For Agility: Launch during the highly anticipated event in the Philippines to reframe the conversation on beauty – Miss Universe. Upon coronation, when conversations were at its peak, Dove launched its campaign, maximising attention and talkability.

High Quick Burn Awareness to Maximise Reach: A 60 second film that stood up to unreal beauty was released on TV right after coronation. Screens were simultaneously road blocked -- TV, digital, and contextual LED billboards placed right beside Miss Universe ads. It maximised reach and caught the attention of local and international press; extending the life of the message.

Sharper Targeting with Pioneering Digital Tools: Strategically featuring versions of the material by showcasing specific women who matched the targeted viewer’s age, interests, location. Outside social media, Dove initiated conversations with people highly interested in Miss Universe content through programmatic ad platforms 8Share, Ultra and Outbrain. A poster generator allowed women to share appreciation/ compliments for other women and spread “#realbeauty is universal”.

View the film here:


The campaign spiralled into an online movement of women lifting other women up. 10 million views. 250 million impressions. It was picked up by local and international media. Resulting to 16.2 million pesos worth of earned media. Local: Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Business World, Manila Bulletin. International: Mumbrella, DesignTaxi, CNN, Fortune, Campaign Brief Asia. Website page views quadrupled during campaign period.

#RealBeauty Is Universal trended twice on Twitter.

Brand love increased by 11%, the only beauty brand to become the most loved by Millennials in a 2017 YouGov survey. Brand equity scores improved by 20% across categories. And finally, sales increased by 11% and business from flat is now on an upward trend.

But most important of all, every woman felt like a beauty queen on Miss Universe, with or without the crown.

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Brand Owner:
January - December 2017
Ogilvy & Mather
Media Channel:
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