To celebrate the 10th anniversary of its “Real Beauty” campaign, Unilever's Dove has thrown down its next social media gauntlet with “Selfie,” a 10-minute documentary bound for the Sundance Film Festival.
The film, directed by Academy Award-winner Cynthia Wade, dives right into the heart of Dove’s brand mission: Convincing young women that the things they hate most about themselves are the features that make them most beautiful. The twist is that the high school girls are assigned not just to rethink their own selfies, but to give their equally self-loathing moms a selfie lesson too.
Since launching the Campaign for Real Beauty 10 years ago, based on the research insight that only 2% of women think they are beautiful, the Unilever brand claims to have moved the needle on women’s self perception in the U.S. It says 62% of women now say they feel responsible for influencing their own definition of beauty, a dramatic jump from 23% 10 years ago.
The effort, a partnership with Wade and the Sundance Institute and shot at a high school in Massachusetts' Berkshire Mountains, is aimed squarely at social media. It says 55% of the women in its research believe social media plays a bigger part in influencing conversations about beauty than traditional media. Using #BeautyIs as a hashtag, it hopes the idea will become the viral winner that its past efforts have, inspiring women to take different kinds of selfies, and share their own stories and images of redefinition. (Women can also upload photos and videos to the Dove Web site.)
The effort comes at a time when selfies are making dramatic demographic shifts. Often mocked as an emblem of Millennial narcissism (in fact, some research has shown that 30% of photos taken by Gen Y are self-portraits), selfies have been much in the news because of older famous subjects, from President Barack Obama to Pope Francis.
But Britain's Daily Mail reports that in the U.K., 17 million selfies are uploaded to social media every week, and that people ages 55 and older took more (and uploaded more), with one in six doing so. That compares with just one in 10 posted by the younger side of Gen Y, those 18 to 24. Older Millennials, 25 to 34, take the most, and account for 34% of all uploaded selfies.
Unilever, meanwhile, just posted its fourth-quarter results, and while sales growth is slowing in its personal care division worldwide, it says sales in the U.S. are ahead of others. The company also says it increased its advertising and promotional budget by some $620 million in the last year, which it says it “invested to build our brands over the long term.”