A Shonda Rhimes-Led Crew Fronts Dove's Emmys Ad

The Women Behind the Camera Take Center Stage

Published On
Sep 13, 2017

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Ads don't often focus on the people who make the ads, but Dove will spend the early part of its 60-second ad on Sunday's CBS Emmys broadcast highlighting the 100 percent female production crew behind the work, led by Shonda Rhimes.

"Tonight as television honors women on screen and behind the scenes, so do we," the commerical crows.

Along with getting the writer and producer of such hits as "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal" to make ads though its Real Beauty Productions, the Unilever brand always intended to go with an entirely female crew. But Unilever VP of U.S. Skin Cleansing and Baby Care Nick Soukas says he didn't talk about that when the initiative launches this spring, frankly because he wasn't sure the brand could pull it off. "It's actually harder to do than it sounds," he says. Besides Rhimes as creative director, the crew is led by documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus as director.

"Our objective in launching Real Beauty Productions was to shift the power of storytelling from Hollywood and put it in the hands of real women," Soukas says. "We felt the Emmys was a great opportunity to acknowledge the importance of female storytelling and particularly broadening the diversity of how beauty is portrayed on screen."

Starting in March Rhimes led an effort to solicit thousands of stories from women about changing definitions of beauty, which have in turn been winnowed so far to focus on three women to date. The third will be introduced as part of the Emmys effort, featuring Diana Wright, who survived a car crash and proudly shows off her prosthetic leg. Prior films focused on Cathleen Meredith, creator of "Fat Girls Dance" videos, and Kylee Howell, who launched Friar Tuck's hair salon in Utah to provide short haircuts to women who men's barbershops wouldn't serve.

Rhimes is playing the key role in producing Real Beauty ads this year, Dove's 60th anniversary, though Soukas says "Real Beauty Productions is a complement to our overall advertising approach," and WPP's Ogilvy & Matherremains a key part of ads focused on the brand's product range.

UEG and Edelman also worked on the Emmys project.