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Marketer: Unilever Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Tokyo

Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" gets a PR push in Japan, where a survey shows low levels of self-esteem among women.

[Tokyo] Unilever turned to public relations in Japan to generate interest in a local version of Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty," because Japanese women are less certain than their counterparts in Europe and the U.S that media present beauty in unrealistic and unhealthy ways.

Although Japanese women have among the lowest levels of self-esteem in the world, according to a Unilever survey, "women there believe they develop their own high expectations of beauty that, in their view, are only reflected in media, not caused by it. There's no backlash here," said Mark Blair, president of WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, Tokyo.

To give the Dove campaign momentum in Japan, Unilever and Ogilvy created a debate about the nature of beauty and the role played by media in establishing standards of beauty. The discussion was initiated last April, when 10,000 women signed up for 300 spots at a two-day seminar called "Real Beauty Tour" at the Four Seasons in Tokyo. The program began with a photo session, survey about the definition of beauty and color diagnostic seminar, all designed to push Dove's brand message, helping women reaffirm and express their own beauty.

On the second day, the women visited Shinjuku Station in Tokyo wearing blonde wigs, stereotypical representations of beauty, which were tossed in the air in symbolic gestures to free themselves from standard symbols of beauty. The event was filmed (without rehearsals) and later transformed by Ogilvy into a TV spot and newspaper ad alongside comments made by the participants.

Late last month, Unilever extended the debate by inviting experts such as Takako Yamazaki, who writes for several Japanese beauty publications, to discuss the role of media and society in establishing standards of beauty in a public forum. The event coincided with the launch of print and outdoor ads featuring unconventionally attractive Japanese women. The event was covered by local TV and print media as well as five online women's network groups in Japan (e-Women, Woman's Excite, Ohitorisama, Cafe Globe, Trenders).

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