As part of the WARC Rankings 2024, we spoke to the people behind some of this year’s stand-out campaigns. In this interview, Daniel Fisher, Global Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy, shares insights from Dove’s ‘Turn Your Back’ campaign, which saw the Unilever brand call out harmful TikTok beauty filters.

Why are the WARC Rankings important to your agency?

The WARC Creative 100 is THE benchmark for creative excellence. There’s no better reference point for us as creatives, as an agency or as a network.

Tell us a bit about the background of the campaign. What was the challenge or issue you were trying to solve?

2024 marks 20 years of our ‘Campaign for real beauty’. That’s 20 years of taking a stance against unrealistic body standards and addressing the psychological impact they can have on women and girls.

@dove No filter should tell you how to look. 80% of girls are already using filters by the age of 13. It’s no wonder their perception of beauty and their self-esteem are distorted. Help reverse the damage. #TurnYourBack on the Bold Glamour filter and digital distortion. Real beauty is bold. #RealBeautyIsBold #Dove #LetsChangeBeauty #NoDigitalDistortion #BeautyCommunity #SelfEsteem ♬ original sound - Dove Beauty & Personal Care

TikTok’s Bold Glamour filter – which distorts a user’s face to extreme lengths while seeming frighteningly accurate – secured 16 million downloads in three days. Dove not only had the authority to call out its damaging impact, they were also being asked to by the media – so taking action was a no-brainer. The key thing was that we had to act fast.

When developing the creative approach, what was your process for generating unique insights and ideas? How did you land on the direction you took?

Our creative approach was a model example of Ogilvy’s commitment to ‘Borderless Creativity’ – taking advantage of our global network to make high-impact ideas a reality in a few hours.

After seeing the filter, we briefed the global network on a Wednesday afternoon and the next morning there were more than 250 slides of ideas. The following day we presented TurnYourBack to the client and by Sunday it had launched across social media.

We settled on the idea of literally turning your back to the camera because we thought, if you don’t show the filter your face, then it can’t distort it. It was also a very visually disruptive thing to do in an ecosystem full of selfies. Especially for a beauty brand, which exists in a sector defined by people’s faces.

What was your media approach, and why did you choose to go that direction?

There’s no point responding to a TikTok trend a week after it's peaked, so we called on our brilliant cohort of Dove influencers who were able to turn content around in the short time we had. Acting fast was the only way this campaign would make an impact at scale.

We followed up with a load of social videos and OOH but we knew that to make this work part of culture, we needed to do something truly disruptive, so we linked up with Gabrielle Union and got her to turn her back to paparazzi on the red carpet at The Oscars. Seeing it all unfurl, seeing this crazy idea actually come to life, was one of those moments that makes this the best industry in the world to work in.

Dove is a very well-known brand. How did the campaign fit within the history and principles of the brand's previous work, while still feeling fresh?

Dove’s long-standing commitment to championing self-esteem and body positivity has evolved as new technologies have fostered new trends. This is going to be an ongoing challenge as the growth of AI turbocharges realistic filters that alter the ways girls feel they should look.

What makes Dove’s work cut above the rest and resonate so much is the fact that we’ve managed to stay ahead of the curve and also move at the speed of culture when we need to.

Did you face any challenges or hurdles to overcome in the process of the campaign, from ideation through to execution? How did you overcome them?

The best thing about being part of a global creative network is that we shift from an initial concept to a reality at pace. The biggest challenge with TurnYourBack was that we had so many ideas to choose from.

To overcome this, we had to think about what we were trying to set out and achieve. We knew that if we wanted virality, it had to be disruptive whilst at the same time be simple enough for everyone to get involved with.

Could you give us a few top lessons from this work? What lessons would you apply to other work moving forward?

I think what I learnt was the oldest lesson in the book. That the best work comes when the clients and the agency trust in each other. This campaign wasn’t planned, it was an opportunity that presented itself and which we grabbed. But to pull it off, both we and the clients had to let go of most of the processes we rely on and we had to work in different ways to which we were used to. And we were only able to do that because of the underlying trust we had for each other.