Dove may have struck advertising gold last year with its "Real Beauty Sketches" ad, but not everyone is praising its latest attempt at a viral video in which women were given beauty patches for two weeks as part of an experiment and then told the whole thing was fake.
In the ad, the women tell the camera that the patches, which they diligently stuck to their arms to "enhance the way they perceive their own beauty," have made them feel great and want to show off their arms and smile at people and go dress-shopping.
"It's definitely been a life-altering experience," one woman tells the psychologist at the end of the experiment, as the camera cuts to each of them detailing its beauty-boosting effects in turn.
Then, the psychologist hands them a piece of paper that describes what's in the beauty patch they've been putting on their bodies and documenting for the previous two weeks: Nothing.
For some reason, they giggle. And then they cry.
"I was really expecting there to be something," one woman says, while wiping happy tears from her eyes. "To really see that there's nothing in it. It's crazy."
Another woman, as some faint music plays in the background, says, "I'm beautiful. I'm strong. I'm independent. And I can just be whoever I want to."
AdWeek asked whether women's self-esteem is really as easily influenced as Dove makes it out to be. New York magazine's article on it was simply titled, "This Dove Ad Is Garbage."
"Is Dove empowering women or calling them gullible?" the AdWeek writer asks.
The New York magazine writer concluded, "Shame upon you, Dove, for making these women seem dumb, and for not scripting at least one of them to act outraged that she had been duped."
Dove told ABCNews.com that none of the women in the ad were actresses and they all responded to an open audition to participate in an "undisclosed documentary."
"All of the women who participated in the experiment feel that it was an extremely positive experience empowering them to be far more confident about their beauty, inside and out," Jennifer Bremner, Dove's director of skin cleansing, told ABCNews.com in an email. "The Dove: Patches campaign was designed to evoke conversation about how the right state of mind can unlock a powerful feeling of beauty that lives inside all women. We believe it is an empowering call to action."
While some people took to Twitter to praise the brand for telling women they're beautiful on their own, others found it downright insulting.
Did these women fall for This?! Or was it staged?… Either way, this is degrading for all Intelligent women! - Dove http://t.co/f49RO8elOd
- RumblePitch (@RumblePitch) April 9, 2014
Very nice, but I would've felt a little dumb… Dove Launches Fake 'Beauty Patch' in Latest Play for Viral Glory http://t.co/VdlC8yUYku
- Lauren Sleeper (@LaurenSleeper) April 9, 2014
Dove beauty patch? Did the women seriously think there was such a thing? Sorry, Dove…this "experiment" totally missed the mark.
- Chelle (@winey_mommy) April 9, 2014
Oh right!, we just fooled u for 2 weeks so you can go back to feeling ugly now hmmmmm -_-/ Dove's 'Beauty Patch' http://t.co/Ptxy0zubPt
- Manuel Bordé (@Borde_) April 9, 2014
Either this Dove "Beauty Patch" spot is the most fake thing I've seen, or these women are brainless. http://t.co/2ruNNMMxu3
- Jasmeet Gill (@gillzzzz) April 9, 2014
Feeling the need to vomit a little bit: Dove Launches Fake 'Beauty Patch' in Latest Play for Viral Glory http://t.co/Vled1egZct
- Gina Howse (@GinaHowse) April 9, 2014
- Jenn George (@jennegeorge) April 9, 2014
Adweek hits nail on head. If you're a woman w/ 2 brain cells to rub together, how could you not find Dove insulting?: http://t.co/Uj1YuZrbpm
- Aaron Taube (@AaronT_BI) April 9, 2014