Hugo Veiga: The man behind the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign


Hugo Viega is the man behind the latest commercial campaign for Dove – the most viral online video campaign ever. He told PDV how he believes women should be more confident about their looks.

Culture What's New — 30 May 2013 by Marina Watson Peláez
Hugo Veiga: The man behind the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign

Hugo Veiga (R) and colleague Diego Machado, the creatives behind the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign (Photograph: All Rights reserved/PDV)

Laughter reverberates around the room when Hugo Veiga tells the audience that to succeed in the marketing world, you must have two qualities: passion and balls.

Hugo Viega, 33, is the man behind the latest commercial campaign for personal care brand Dove – the most viral online video campaign in history.

The video takes place in a loft in San Francisco, where an FBI trained forensic artist asks several women to tell him how they see themselves, describing features like their hair and the shape of their faces, and then sketches them, without actually seeing them, based only on these descriptions.

He then sketches them based on what other people have to say about the person – personal considerations such as: she had “nice eyes that lit up when she spoke”, or she had a “thin chin.”

The differences between both versions, hung side by side, are jaw-dropping – and the second one always turned out to be more flattering, leaving most of the women almost in tears.

The challenge was to create an inspiring project to support the concept of “real beauty”, which was inspiring and had a universal language,” Hugo tells PDV following a conference at the University of Communication and Media Studies in Lisbon.

It was surprising because it’s an emotionally-charged film, so it doesn’t really have that much potential to become viral. We knew we had a very good project in our hands, but we never thought it would ever become the most viral video in history in just 5 weeks.”

Veiga says that, as described in an article by the New York Times, it “seems to have gone beyond the skin and touched a nerve.” And that, according to him, sums up what the campaign is about.

I think what marked me the most were the women’s reactions after the sketches. The portraits were like mirror reflections of all the internal conflicts these women had been struggling with during their entire lives.”

The Portuguese copywriter was born in Porto, but works for Ogilvy Brazil, and has lived in São Paulo for the past 7 years. He started his career with an internship at McCann Erickson in Lisbon, after winning a national competition for young creatives. He now works alongside art director Diego Machado – a team which has been clinching prizes since 2011. They were awarded a silver and three gold medals at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativiy.

Veiga said that advertising agencies need to hire creatives and not marketeers, and also have to take on risks. “When we came up with this idea for Dove, we didn’t know if it would work,” he explains. “I didn’t know whether I could trust the portraits this man did to turn out accurate.” But the accuracy of the results were astonishing.

He also told a room full of journalism and advertising students that nothing should ever stop them from taking an idea forward.

“We increasingly have to multitask, be multifaceted and try to be as independent as possible, do everything possible to make an idea happen,” he added.

Veiga says the bottom line of the advert is that women are more beautiful than they think, as they are very self-critical and do not value their beauty. “The message is: You are more beautiful that you think. Start to value the positive aspects you have and don’t give so much importance to imperfections,” he says.

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Marina Watson Peláez

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