Project #ShowUs: Dove’s disruptive new partnership to shatter stereotypes

Insight

Through its Real Beauty movement, Dove is renowned for challenging unrealistic female stereotypes and imagery. But a recent global survey showed that 70% of women felt underrepresented in media and advertising, and directly related to this, only 11% of Canadian women were satisfied with their appearance. Given that research has proven that unrealistic beauty standards can limit a woman’s health, relationships and career, it was crucial not only to change the narrative but to take action. The media and advertising industries were a big part of the problem. For all the talk of equal representation, reality painted a very different picture. 

We saw an opportunity to set a new standard for how women are represented by putting women in control of their own images. To do so, we went straight to the source.

Idea

We launched Project #ShowUs in a powerful way, joining forces with Getty Images and #Girlgaze, to bring the social mission to life at the source of where most beauty imagery comes from, ensuring the images were representing women as they are in real life. Over 5,000 non-distorted images, all shot by women or female-identifying individuals, became publicly available for the media and advertising industries to view, license and use in future projects or campaigns. In order to showcase a more authentic representation of diverse women, we partnered with female and female-identifying influencers from a variety of backgrounds to restage some of search’s most common (and clichéd) stock search terms, on their terms. This was further enhanced with interview footage that unpacked why the original stock image missed the mark on reality. And in the ultimate coup, we worked with our media partner to feature an unretouched image of one of our influencers on the cover of Chateleine magazine’s June/July issue. In fact, all of the women photographed and featured in the summer issue were unretouched. The Letter from the Editor included a detailed discussion of the #ShowUs project and the intent behind the campaign. 

Results

Project #ShowUs was Dove’s largest and most ambitious initiative to date and one that’s already paying dividends. In addition to contributing to the worldwide image bank through our influencer program and earned media outreach, we exceeded our benchmarks for media relations and influencer engagement by +193%. Amongst our target audience of  women 25-54, we were able to achieve a 71% reach, almost tripling the average reach benchmark for influencer content.

To date, we’ve secured a total of 319 highly-targeted, Canada-wide stories, with 96% of the coverage including Dove in the headline. Key message pull-through was 85% and positive sentiment skyrocketed for the campaign, at 98%. And notably, on Getty Images, the search term “real people” has increased +192% over the past year, “diverse women” by +168% and “strong women” by +187%.