At the Cannes Lions last week, Unilever CMO Keith Weed outlined how creating more positive images of women was a priority for the world's second-biggest advertiser because it was the right thing to do, but because it also made sound business sense.
Now, obviously Unilever isn't the only company tapping empowerment and positive images of women in its marketing—JC Penney's fantastic "Here I Am," and Always' newest "Like A Girl" are two from this month alone—but its work for Dove over the last decade has certainly paved the way for many more brands to get their act together.
While plenty of Dove's Real Beauty work has focused on the limitations women set on their own self-image, for its newest campaign the brand talks to women about those projected on them from others. From boxer Heather Hardy being told she's too pretty to fight, or model Rain Dove being called too masculine, or telling fashion blogger Jessica Torres that only skinny girls can dress well, we hear how they fought through those stereotypes.
Andre Laurentino, global executive creative director for Unilever, says the brand, along with agency Ogilvy & Mather London, combined quantitative facts found in the company's Global Beauty Confidence Report with its understanding of what is happening in popular culture. "In this case, our creative starting point was when we said: 'Why let other people define your possibilities?'" says Laurentino. "We realized that society was trivializing women through a focus on how they look over and above their achievements. We wanted to take a positive stand on this and inspire women through real stories of how they can deal with this and celebrate their own beauty."
As Dove has become synonymous with a certain kind of uplifting and empowered advertising around confidence and self-image, Laurentino says that at its core it's always been about women's relationship with beauty, which should be a source of confidence, not anxiety.
"And we've gone even deeper into that, adding depth and texture through the real stories of the real women we met," says Laurentino. "The constant challenge is to stay as close to real women as possible to understand the evolution of society and to deliver truly believable and authentic messages."