Dove Builds Largest Stock Photo Library Created By Women

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The Challenge

Many know the mantra, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” A recent study shows that 70% of women say they still don’t feel represented in the images they see every day. These images continue to impose unrealistic beauty standards -- presenting a narrow view of who women are, what they should look like, and what they can achieve. 

The Execution

That is why Dove took explicit action to shatter beauty stereotypes that are too often perpetuated by media. Dove partnered with Getty Images and Girlgaze to create Project #ShowUs, the world’s largest stock photo library created by women. 

The collection features 5,000+ photographs of women from 39 countries 100% created and photographed by women. For the first time, every woman photographed personally defined her own search tags. In media, their mission was to creatively bring #ShowUs to life. 

Dove went to where beauty standards have long been defined -- the fashion and beauty publishing industry. It wanted to authentically integrate #ShowUs images in content that women turn to for inspiration. In a first-of-its-kind partnership with Hearst, Cosmo, Harper’s Bazaar, O Magazine, Elle and Marie Claire were given access to the #ShowUs images, natively infusing them in May beauty issues. 

Editors had the creative freedom to leverage #ShowUs stock images and adapt the content for their readership. They took unprecedented steps to integrate the campaign within content: cancelling planned photoshoots, adding brand new sections and noting the campaign in  letters from the editors. 

The Results

Reached over 20 million women

Integrated over 150 #ShowUs images across Hearst’s print and digital content ecosystem

Key Takeaways

MediaPost spoke with Christopher McCraw, director of Dove agency Mindshare, about what they learned while creating this campaign.

"Dove had to give up some control and put power into the media partners," he said. "They had access to the bank. We had little say in how they would reflect the images in their content." But the idea that it's okay to be uncomfortable was embraced on all sides, he said, making the campaign as authentic as possible.

"Collaboration is key," said McCraw. "We embrace that." Hearst hosted a panel discussion and media presentation on beauty as it pertains to media with editors and the Dove brand team. "It was a really cool and touching element of the plan for me," he said.

He advises brands to "treat media partners not as a transactional entity but as true collaborators. "Brief them. Make it passion-oriented. Often times in the marketing space, we default to spots and dots [placement]. Reach, be uncomfortable, challenge, ask for something you're not used to asking for." 

This campaign won the Print (magazines and newspapers) and Native Marketing categories in MediaPost's 2019 Creative Media Awards.

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