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The Non-Issue

The Non-Issue | L'Oréal | McCann Erickson
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Industry: Beauty & Health
Style: Minimalism
Why is this work relevant for Media?

‘The Non-Issue’ was more than a sponsored magazine.

It was a media-first: the coming together of two titans of fashion and beauty to produce an unprecedented brand takeover of British Vogue, dedicated to and made by women over-50.

It was a celebration of older women in the medium where they feel least visible.

It was a manifestation of L’Oréal Paris’s commitment to women’s worth at every age.

It was an immersive experience that lived beyond the page in AR-enabled video and social media content exclusives.

And it reinvented what editorial content could achieve.


L’Oréal Paris has always believed every woman is worth it, at every age. It pioneered skincare for mature skin and actively champions age-positivity.

We were dismayed to discover that, although 40% of women are over-50 – and are the fastest growing demographic – over-50s represent only 15% of women in the media. The disappearance of older women from culture sends a message to all women that growing older means becoming worthless and irrelevant. No wonder women in their 30s fear ageing more than any group.

As the world’s biggest beauty brand, we felt deeply uncomfortable that gender-based ageism has been accepted as an unspoken norm.

Every L’Oréal Paris customer will, hopefully, one day be over-50. We had a business imperative to better represent older women.

Ageism works against every single one of us. We had a cultural responsibility to prove that every woman, whatever her age, is worth it.

Describe the creative idea/insights (30% of vote)

We wanted to disrupt the gender-based ageism that pervades every aspect of our culture, by addressing the issue at source. We would win women’s hearts, not just their minds, by making a huge public commitment to them, whatever their age.

We persuaded Vogue to do something they’ve never done before. A special edition featuring everything you would expect of Vogue: 80 pages of aspirational fashion and inspiring editorial. Except the content was entirely made by, and dedicated to, women over 50.

L’Oréal put older women centre stage, in the arena where they were least visible.

Our age-positive belief would be captured in the line: ‘The Non-Issue’. A rallying cry to normalise ageing and reshape our perception of it.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

Extensive global surveys revealed a perplexing truth: older women feel more confident and care less about ageing than young women, but they feel invisible. Journalist Mariella Frostrup summarised the paradox: “it has been like inhabiting two separate worlds: a tangible one filled with energetic, sexy, adventurous, hard-working and active friends in their 50s, and a wider society where neither myself nor my contemporaries seem to exist at all”.

When older women disappear from our media, it sends a message to all women that growing older means becoming irrelevant. Our research showed it was also actually women aged 20-40 who feared ageing most.

We would illuminate our culture’s skewed attitude to ageing with a call to action to recognise and celebrate the achievements, beauty and style of women over-50. By representing women over-50, we aimed to resonate with women of every age.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

Our May takeover of the magazine created the biggest branded special edition in Vogue’s history. We reimagined how advertorial could be used. Everything within ‘The Non-Issue’ challenged stereotypes; positively shaping our perception of age. From fashion to tech, beginning new adventures to advice about the menopause.

And every piece of advertising within the magazine normalised aging.

12 shoots; 24 candid interviews; 47 remarkable women; 111 curated photographs; 128 engaging articles. Beyond articles from L’Oréal Paris’ iconic ambassadors Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren and Isabelle Adjani, ‘The Non-Issue’ celebrated a range of 50-plus women from acclaimed war correspondent Christiane Amanpour to cult comedian Jennifer Saunders.

In April 2019, 250,000 copies were distributed to newsstands and subscribers. Getting the message into the hands, minds and hearts of women across the globe. Facebook-enabled AR codes revealed exclusive interviews that not only gave older women a face in fashion but a voice too.

List the results (30% of vote)

‘The Non-Issue’ received more coverage than Vogue’s most successful September issue starring Rihanna (31), and threw gender-based ageism into the spotlight.

Its message proved impossible to ignore:
On social, ‘The Non-Issue’s’ cover was x3 more visible than the official May cover, starring Kate Moss.
Vogue attracted 40,000+ new readers in just two weeks.
With no paid media, it organically reached 3.9M people offline and 19M online.
Inspired coverage worldwide from: The Independent, Mail Online, Refinery29, The Daily Telegraph, Good Morning America, E! News, Fox News, Pravda Slovakia, 20 Minutes France, Entertainment Tonight Canada, NLCafé Hungary, Documento Greece, Universa Brazil, News Australia.

The overarching objective was long-term brand building for L’Oréal. While commercial benefits of brand-building take time to show, there’s already overwhelmingly positive brand response: 90% of L’Oréal Paris social mentions during circulation were positive.

The clearest indication that attitudes are changing? Vogue’s choice of June cover-star: Madonna, aged 60.
Production Company:
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Silver Media
Use of Print / Outdoor
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Shortlist Brand Experience & Activation
Social Behaviour & Cultural Insight
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