Beauty standards are impossible. Women face tremendous pressure to keep up with ideal images, and it’s negatively impacting everyone’s mental health. In fact, the American Medical Association has declared images in the media as a health issue.* That’s why CVS, a purpose-driven retailer, introduced an initiative focused on creating a better, healthier beauty experience.
As we set out to expand our presence in the beauty category, we quickly realized that the industry itself was driving a rapidly rising health concern; years of one-size-fits-all models and photoshopped imagery in marketing material was putting tremendous pressure on women to achieve an impossible beauty standard, lowering their self-esteem and confidence.
Women now turn to photo-editing apps where they can slim, erase, lighten and digitally alter personal photos in their own time. Social media became flooded with unrealistic imagery from influencers, celebrities, and now, everyday people. In fact, in 2017, photo-editing app, FaceTune, was the most downloaded paid app of the year, with over 50 million downloads.
We saw this as call to action. Our challenge was to give consumers what they needed — a way to feel better about beauty and shopping for beauty products.
Our main objectives were to:
As women continued to internalize pervasive, fictitious standards of beauty, they were left feeling inadequate about their own appearance. Women flocked to social media influencers for the authenticity that the brands surrounding them wouldn't provide.
So, we debuted the CVS Beauty Mark — a public commitment to ensure that beauty marketing in our stores and online is fully transparent. Not airbrushed, slimmed or shaped to be “perfect.” And not just for the length of a campaign, but from now on.
We launched this campaign to differentiate CVS in the beauty space by giving consumers what they need — a way to feel better about beauty and shopping for beauty products. We became the first-ever retailer to make a commitment on this scale—bringing this change in beauty image marketing to 8,000+ stores nationwide.
But this effort couldn’t just be about us. To honor our brand purpose, and to shift culture, we needed to go beyond changing our own marketing—we had to align more brands to our cause and mobilize a mass audience for the health of consumers everywhere. By getting brands like Revlon, Rimmel and JOAH to join this fight, we’re shifting the industry toward more realistic, healthier perceptions of beauty.
With only $500K for media spend and $500k for Creative and Production, we set out to inspire a change in beauty standards. This meant delivering the transparency that consumers sought where it wasn’t available: in the images that surround them and in their feeds.
In a coordinated effort with CVS content, beauty brand partners and influencers on paid and organic, we officially launched the Beauty Mark on January 24th across social platforms including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Users showed their support of this movement toward #BeautyUnaltered by sharing unaltered selfies, promoting a healthy self-image and giving the conversation momentum. Influencers who participated include Kerry Washington and Nicole Kidman, as Neutrogena brand ambassadors, Covergirl’s Ayesha Curry as well as Erin and Sara Foster.
In New York City’s Times Square—where every day nearly 380,00 people walk by a sea of advertisements, the vast majority of which are digitally altered–we showed larger-than-life, unretouched images celebrating real beauty—including pores, scars and flyaway hair. We ran two types of media on two vertically stacked billboards: a standard digital buy featuring awareness messaging and a dynamic UGC buy displaying unaltered selfies in real time. We didn’t want consumers to just see the difference; we wanted them to experience it.
Using social media and an on-site team, we encouraged everyone to get involved. Within minutes, unaltered, unfiltered selfies using #BeautyUnaltered and @cvs_beauty, were live. Every 10 seconds, a different consumer’s image joined the cause and over 3.6 billion impressions were earned.
To amplify this experience, we activated a live feed on YouTube so people around the country could see their selfies in real-time, with many receiving follow-up responses of thanks from community management.
Named a leading innovator in beauty by Fast Company in 2019
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