Cannes Lions

Courage Is Beautiful

OGILVY, London / DOVE / 2020

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March 2020. The spread of COVID-19 had just reached global pandemic levels. The brief from Dove was simple: what can we do to help make the situation better?

The answer was clear: healthcare workers around the world were working tirelessly to save others, putting themselves at risk of contracting a disease that was still not completely understood – Dove was uniquely able to help keep them safe by donating badly needed soap and hand sanitiser.

Healthcare workers were being stretched to their limits, working double and triple shifts. Dove also decided to show their support for these heroes. Dove evolved the definition of their long-standing “Campaign for Real Beauty” to remind people that beauty isn’t how you look, but what you do – and during the pandemic, front-line healthcare workers and their courageous actions were the true embodiment of beauty.


Our creative idea was to juxtapose the beauty of front-line healthcare workers’ courageous acts against images of them at the end of their shifts, which would not traditionally be considered beautiful. In doing so, Dove redefined beauty as something you do and not how you look.

The campaign launched in Canada, but was quickly adapted to run in 15 countries around the world. In each country, the campaign provided badly-needed supplies for hospitals and the communications included the faces of local healthcare workers.

Achieving 2 billion+ earned views, the campaign had tremendous industry impact and acclaim and is arguably the most high-profile campaign of the pandemic.


We wanted to specifically honour the doctors and nurses who inspired our campaign.

Through data and the use of digital outdoor, we ensured our messages of support would be seen outside hospitals around the world as healthcare workers began and ended their shifts.

What began as a targeted media campaign, went on to reach a worldwide audience with over 2 billion earned global impressions.

The campaign launched in Canada and then was rolled out to the USA, Russia, Spain, South Africa, France, Spain, Russia, Bangladesh, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Costa Rica.

The campaign launched in additional markets as the pandemic spread around the world, ensuring Dove’s donations were going where they could help the most.


The idea was presented to the client on Wednesday and the campaign launched Sunday, 4 days later. In that time, images were sourced, assets created, media purchased, and the relief effort to deliver supplies to hospitals was organized.

The campaign featured “selfie” photographs that had been uploaded to social media directly by the healthcare workers themselves. We found the images by searching through hashtags and then reached out to the healthcare workers directly through DMs.

The campaign ran globally on TV, online video, print, out of home and PR.

Working with hospitals in the USA, Russia, Spain and South Africa, we also collected data on workers’ shift patterns and bought digital out of home media adjacent to the most overwhelmed hospitals, broadcasting our campaign when healthcare workers started or ended their shifts, giving frontline workers a dose of encouragement to keep on saving lives.


Courage is Beautiful was quickly adapted and initiated globally in 15 markets, with each country honouring healthcare workers from their local market. It garnered unprecedented engagement rates in all markets, generating over 2 billion earned global impressions, 349% increase in Facebook engagement, 1,599% increase in Twitter engagement, 99% positive sentiment in social. It featured on major US news outlets including CBS, CNN and NBC Today. The campaign contributed to massive increases in brand power in key markets vs the previous quarter: US Brand Power +10pp driven by increases indifference and salience; UK Brand Power +5pp. Spontaneous awareness also increased +7% (US), and +5% (UK). A Canadian Omnibus study showed significant uplift on equity with +15pt Brand affinity increase and +8pts main equity attribute, driving women to feel more positive about the way they look, vs non-exposed. A US Brand Lift Study showed significant uplift on ad recall and message agreement.

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