Revealing the Real Cost of Beauty with Dove
How do you turn up the volume on a silent epidemic?
Dove is a global leader in the fight against harmful beauty standards. As part of that mission, the brand partnered with Harvard University and Deloitte to author "The Real Cost of Beauty Ideals," a groundbreaking study of the impact of beauty stereotypes on people across the United States. The results where shocking: Every year, 66+ million Americans experience “appearance hate,” an epidemic of discrimination and self-hatred with an annual impact of $500+ billion on physical and mental health, employment and productivity, educational achievement, and even mortality. But to drive change, Dove needed more than statistics—they needed a campaign to make audiences care.
To break through the noise, we developed a clear strategic focus: Show that when it comes to “The Real Cost of Beauty,” young people pay the biggest price. This became the foundation for a 360° campaign that used powerful personal storytelling to make the experience of appearance hate real, with additional opportunities to unpack the data and drive home the scale of the problem.
For the emotional heart of the campaign, five extraordinary young people shared their personal experiences with appearance hate in long-form videos. Each story dove deep into a code-red issue, including weight-based bullying, anti-LGBTQIA+ prejudice, and race-based hair discrimination. We also created an anthem video in which the young people came together to speak truth to power and call for change.
To capture the world’s attention, we placed a two-page print spread in The New York Times that showed the outsized impact of appearance hate compared with other youth crises, such as distracted driving and alcohol abuse. We also created paid social media assets urging audiences to become part of the solution.
Finally, we invited audiences to visit realcostofbeauty.dove.com, a custom digital experience spotlighting the personal stories, data, and impact of appearance hate.
We opened America’s eyes to the staggering cost of an unknown epidemic and launched the first real conversation about a public health crisis affecting millions of women and girls. An even greater boost came from the young activists in our videos, who used this moment to rally for change—taking to social media and challenging local authorities to step up and prevent appearance hate in their communities. In just ten days, campaign metrics outpaced all expectations:
- 104 media outlets
- 1.9B potential reach
- 19pt lift in brand power