Dove just launched the #NoLikesNeeded campaign, its latest self-esteem booster for young women. Like Dove’s previous female empowerment efforts, the campaign is likely to be widely viewed across YouTube and social media – but not because of its message.

Since Dove launched its Self-Esteem Project in 2004, the brand’s YouTube ads have consistently seen large-scale success. “Real Beauty Sketches,” the company’s most-viewed ad, generated over 114 million views to become the most-watched video ad of all time. By comparing a forensic artist’s sketches of women based on their self-descriptions to those based on descriptions by strangers, the video shows how women see themselves as less beautiful than they really are.

However, the video’s success doesn’t come from its inspiring message, but from paid advertising. Roughly three-quarters of Dove channel views can be attributed to paid advertising, from “viral” blockbusters to more modest selections. The brand’s “Love Your Curls” campaign was the top-viewed Beauty & Hair Care video of Q1 2015, with nearly 11 million views. However, L2’s Intelligence Report: Video finds that 91% of those views were sourced with InStream advertising.

YouTube views

This strategy has helped Dove continue to release popular videos, even in the face of criticism. It also serves as a reminder that for brand videos, there’s no such thing as “viral.” While #NoLikesNeeded certainly has a strong message, if it becomes a hit, it will likely be due to the fact that Dove is putting money behind it.

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