Always vs. Dove: Viral Video Success Doesn’t Mean YouTube Success

Always vs. Dove: Viral Video Success Doesn’t Mean YouTube Success

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Two brands have recently launched well-publicized campaigns on YouTube using documentary-style videos that encourage viewers to challenge cultural perceptions about women and girls. Last fall, the personal care brand Dove launched the “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” campaign, and in June the feminine products line Always kicked off its “#LikeAGirl” initiative.

The videos themselves are very compelling, and were seen by millions of YouTube viewers. But did they succeed in growing the reach of their respective YouTube channels? Unfortunately, in large part, they did not.

always like a girl

Always vs. Dove: Views, Likes and Shares

The “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” video series came out a year ago. The main video showed women describing themselves to a sketch artist in terms less confident and less attractive than strangers who described them to the same artist. The subjects then reflected on the negatively- and positively-framed drawings. The primary video in the campaign has been viewed 64.2 million times to date, with 150,800 YouTube likes and 17,800 YouTube comments. And, according to Unruly, it has received 4.4 million Facebook shares and 153,480 tweets.

In June, Always launched its #LikeAGirl campaign. It also used the documentary format with a compelling message. #LikeAGirl interviewed women and girls, men and boys, asking them to act out, and subsequently describe their thoughts about, the stereotype of doing things “like a girl.” Participants were asked to run like a girl, throw like a girl, fight like a girl, and so on. Those younger than puberty age were shown to portray girls with strength, but those older portrayed them with weakness. The primary video in the campaign has received 45.1 million views to date, with 141,700 likes on YouTube and 32,000 comments. Also, according to Unruly, it received 969,000 Facebook shares and 59,600 tweets.

Fighting Stereotypes at the Cost of Brand Visibility?

Both of these video are very compelling, testing us on visceral and intellectual levels when we consider stereotypes about women and girls.

But from a campaign perspective, both videos have also unfortunately missed out on future channel-building value. Neither campaign grew their respective channels’ subscriber base in sufficient scale to the views in the campaign. They’ve spent very large budgets getting these videos produced and seen, and yet their subscriber base has not grown in proportion to their views. The main Dove video received views that were 1,340 times greater than its 48,000 subscribers. That means that for everyone who viewed this video, only one out of every 1,340 chose to become a subscriber and see more videos from this provider.

According to our research at Octoly, the Dove U.S. channel has more than 135 million views, with more than 63 million of those occurring as part of a paid YouTube campaign. We support using YouTube advertising as a way of driving subscribers, but views for views sake doesn’t end up accomplishing much. Dove will still have to pay for those views the next time, when they might have instead worked on building up a native audience on the platform.


Not many people chose to actively sign up for more Always videos either (in relation to views). The main Always video received views that were 1,270x subscribers, roughly the same ratio. There are not many videos to be seen though – the channel has only uploaded nine total videos in the past year. Dove has created a better publishing calendar though, releasing an average of five videos per month over the past year.

Low Subscriber Counts Should Be a Concern for Both Brands

Why is this low subscriber number a concern? Because instead of building up a big subscriber base that can help reach the targeted channel fans during the next campaign, Dove and Always will have to pay to promote the videos all over again in essentially the same proportion. As George C. Scott said in the war movie Patton, “I don’t like to pay for the same real estate twice.” Yet that’s exactly what Dove and Always will have to do on their next campaigns. Paid Adwords for Video (TrueView) campaigns should be executed with the goal of building subscribers, not building views.

At Octoly, we believe that brands should go “beyond views” – using KPIs such aa view rates, completion rates, engagement rates, conversion rates and so on. We believe that brand marketers and agencies, including those for Dove and Always, should work on building their subscriber ranks in addition to their view numbers. There are many best practices on doing this that can be found here on, but in large part brands need to continue having conversations with their communities several times a month on a regular schedule, encouraging users to comment, subscribe, like and create their own videos on certain topics.


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