Track and field champion Caster Semenya is seeking to overturn her ban from the upcoming Olympics in the run up to the games, and she has the support of Unilever.
The company's soap brand Lux has made her the center of a bold animated film that takes on World Athletics, the international governing body for all sports. In 2018, it introduced new legislation that banned Semenya from defending her gold medal in the 800m race at this year's Olympics, due to her naturally high level of testosterone, the result of being born with hyperandrogenism.
The film, created by Wunderman Thompson Singapore, features an animated Semenya and asserts the message that no woman should be judged on how they look. It's running globally on social media, directing viewers to sign an online petition for World Athletics to overturn the ban and share the hashtag #IStandwithCaster.
The animation is by by Le Cube and direction by Ralph Karam via Final Frontier. The campaign is endorsed by Semenya but the team took the deliberate decision to work with animation rather than live action to bring to life the idea of athletes as real superheroes who are "born this way" with extraordinary abilities.
“Caster was born with hyperandrogenism and as she herself often says, ‘I am a woman. I was born this way," says Wunderman Thompson Singapore Creative Director Ai-lin Tan. "Our idea came from the insight that most champion athletes are born with extraordinary biology—it is what makes them perform like superheroes. But unlike Caster, they are celebrated, not reviled or banned. So we decided to create an animated film that highlighted this in support of Caster‘s fight.”
The film is part of a wider campaign from Lux that aims to champion a new era of beauty that is equitable and inclusive. The brand has pledged to inspire 50 million women by 2025 using content, partnerships and activations to help them "rise above everyday sexist judgments and express their beauty and femininity unapologetically."
“Working for a beauty brand like Lux, it pains me that in this day and age, women still constantly get judged for how they look and choose to express their femininity,” said Severine Vauleon, global vice president for Lux at Unilever in a statement. “So I am proud to say that Lux stands with Caster. She is an example and an inspiration for women everywhere, to rise above the judgments of others and express their beauty fully and authentically."