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Project #ShowUs

Project #ShowUs | Unilever | Publicis
Download Download JPG | 3556x2520px
Industry: Retail & Distribution
Style: Minimalism

Dove believes that beauty should be a source of confidence for women — inclusive of all female-identifying and non-binary individuals. Yet 70% of women worldwide say they still don’t feel represented in the images they see every day. Many images continue to impose unrealistic beauty standards that present a narrow view of who women are, what they should look like, and what they can achieve. Every day, women’s lives are affected by these limitations, exclusions, and stereotypes. It affects their health, relationships, and opportunities.

To overcome the cluttered ‘Femvertising’ space and reassert themselves as a leader in the beauty category, Dove established a new marketing model: SAY less, DO more. To put their point of view on beauty into action, Dove took aim to liberate all women from the oppressive stereotypes that limit them. But media representation is a systemic issue that isn’t solved by a campaign. To truly broaden the way that all women are represented in media & advertising, Dove allied with like-minded organizations to take bold, decisive action. By showing more women as they truly are, we can improve the self-esteem and quality of life for all women everywhere, and they can show the world what’s possible.

Describe the cultural/social/political climate in your region and the significance of your campaign within this context

Studies have proven that stereotypical media representations of women — inclusive of all female-identifying and non-binary individuals — limit them in countless ways, from access to healthcare to opportunities in life. For instance, in the U.S., higher-weight women earn significantly less over a lifetime (~$200K), and women of color with natural or afro-centric hair are deemed unprofessional. Stereotypes also affect women’s ability to build intimate relationships: In China, women over the age of 25 are called ‘leftover’ and deemed unfit for marriage because they are no longer youthful. And across Asia and the South Pacific, women are discouraged from exposing their skin to the sun because darker skin is considered “ugly.”

But women worldwide are demanding change and accountability for how they are portrayed in media & advertising. Project #ShowUs aims to tackle representation of women at a global level by breaking the stereotypes that most affect them at a local level. Because the nuances of exactly who and how women are marginalized varies based on local values. By partnering with women locally to create diverse and authentic images, and publically distributing them on a globally-accessible platform, we can systematically dismantle oppressive stereotypes and expand how all women are

Describe the creative idea

Dove has taken action with Getty Images and Girlgaze to create Project #ShowUs. It’s the world’s largest stock photo library created by women — inclusive of all female-identifying and non-binary individuals — to shatter beauty stereotypes by showing women as they are, not as others believe they should be.

Project #ShowUs features 5,000+ photographs of women from 39 countries. 100% created and photographed by women, with zero digital distortion. Available to all media & advertisers worldwide at And for the first time in stock photo history, every woman photographed has personally defined their own search tags, so they can be seen on their own terms.

This is just the beginning. 10% of every image licensed supports women photographers and further grows the collection. Together with women and industry change-makers worldwide, Project #ShowUs aims to show all women as they are, so they can show the world what’s possible.

Describe the strategy

Research on global equality movements and media representation informed us that 70% of women — inclusive of all female-identifying and non-binary individuals — still don’t see themselves represented in media & advertising. Furthermore, 6-in-10 women feel that more diverse/authentic depictions of women would increase their own confidence and that of the next generation.

Many images continue to impose unrealistic beauty standards, presenting a narrow view of who women should be. “You can’t be what you can’t see” — women’s health, relationships, and opportunities are affected by these limitations. But women worldwide are demanding change.

While oppressive beauty stereotypes affect women everywhere, the nuances of who and how they limit vary based on local values. Therefore we conducted market-specific research — across 39 countries — to determine local beauty ideals, and who is represented/marginalized, resulting in a data-informed approach to breaking stereotypes in ways most authentic to each woman’s personal experience.

Describe the execution

Project #ShowUs is 18 months of deep partnership by Dove, Getty Images, and Girlgaze to systematically dismantle stereotypical media and advertising representations of women worldwide — inclusive of all female-identifying and non-binary individuals.

To tackle an issue of this magnitude, we needed sustainable infrastructure. We hit the ground in 39 countries to understand local beauty stereotypes. Then, together with Girlgaze’s globally diverse collective of female-identifying creatives, we hired 300+ local photographers and talent to shatter them. They produced over 5,000 images; we made them available to all media & advertisers.

But action without awareness makes little impact, Dove created a global campaign that was a call-to-arms for women to further grow the collection, and for our industry to use it. A campaign toolkit (films, print, OOH, social + events) was locally-adapted in 39 countries. And partnerships with media powerhouses ensured that Project #ShowUs images were used on an unprecedented scale.

Describe the results/impact

Project #ShowUs launched on 27 March 2019, completely re-imagining how stock imagery is conceived, produced and distributed, setting a new standard for authentic representation of women — inclusive of all female-identifying and non-binary individuals.

In the first month, 80,000+ women worldwide raised their hand to support the collection, and 550+ brands, agencies and Fortune 500 companies showed interest in the collection. Great news, considering 62% of women believe #ShowUs images are representative of how most women in their country look, and 66% say they’re more likely to use/purchase brands that use #ShowUs images.

Project #ShowUs has inspired Getty Images to implement the groundbreaking self-defined photo tags across other stock photos on their platform. And they’ve established grants to support future female-identifying photographers, committing to more diverse representation behind the lens. It also facilitated the launch of Girlgaze’s global jobs platform and accounted for 116 paid jobs for female-identifying photographers worldwide.
Production Company:
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Silver Glass: The Lion for Change
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Shortlist Brand Experience & Activation
Social Behaviour & Cultural Insight
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