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Dove Teams With Shonda Rhimes to Bring Women's Stories to Video

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Dove's nearly 13-year-old ad campaign is spawning Real Beauty Productions with Shonda Rhimes as its first big-name producer in an effort to bring stories from consumers to life as films.

The brand's production house – part of a growing in-house production effort by Unilever – is one of a number of efforts behind its 60th anniversary. But it's open-ended, with plans eventually to bring in other celebrity producers as well, said Nick Soukas, VP of Dove.

"Shonda has had a fondness for the Dove brand that preceded this project together, and a joint philosophy with the brand about storytelling and the realness that needs to come from it," Mr. Soukas said. "Telling real people's stories is a perfect fit with the Dove business."

Real Beauty Productions dovetails with Dove's recent pledge to only use "real women," not models in ads, to name them in the ads wherever possible, to eschew digital retouching of their images, and to give them review rights on their images before they are distributed.

The videos won't be of any preordained length, said Mr. Soukas, but will depend on the stories Dove receives. The brand today will begin soliciting stories about beauty from its consumers for the effort via its websites and social media, with Ms. Rhimes also today reaching out to her social media followers (including 1.5 million on Twitter) to the same end. United Entertainment Group and Edelman are participating in the effort.

Ms. Rhimes, writer and producer of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal," also has been a supporter of the Association of National Advertisers' #SeeHer initiative to portray women more often and in leadership, science and technology roles in advertising. That included adding some star power to a presentation at the White House last year that kicked off the effort, spearheaded among others by Gail Tifford, Unilever VP-media and digital engagement for North America.

Real Beauty Productions has a similar goal to #SeeHer of addressing the 69% of women Unilever said don't see themselves as adequately represented in ads, movies and TV.