Skincare brand OLAY was founded on the philosophy that superior skin results happen when combining a deep understanding of skin science with women’s changing needs.
OLAY believes that female futures lie in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). That’s why they committed to #FaceTheSTEMGap by helping to double the number of women in STEM and triple the number of women of color in STEM by 2030. In 2022, OLAY entered year two of its 10-year STEM Commitment, announcing their second commitment of $1MM towards the efforts to close the STEM gap.
Women are behind some of the most ground-breaking discoveries across the STEM fields, from everyday items like coffee filters to life-saving inventions like vaccines. Yet, while women fill almost 50% of the workforce, they comprise only 27% STEM field positions. This represents the “STEM gap,” as more than half of girls count themselves out of STEM careers by the time they reach college. This persists due to a lack of mentorship and role models which lead women to believe that jobs in STEM are ‘not for them.’
The glaring problem turned out to be a Catch-22. Young women cite lack of mentorship and role models to look up to provide a path to STEM success, but this lack of access to opportunities further perpetuated a state where women were not being represented across STEM, hence not able to usher in the next generation of women to work in STEM and positively impact their field.
The solution was obvious – women STEM role models were needed. As a trailblazer in the beauty industry, a brand backed by superior science of 70 years and an advocate for women and their skin, OLAY was the perfect brand to create a platform to communicate the importance of getting the next generation of women to Face Anything and realize a place for themselves in STEM fields.
We wanted to celebrate real women in STEM and lift their profile so they can become role models for future generations.
To reach women of color, specifically Black women, we partnered with US magazine EBONY, a monthly publication targeting the African-American community. The magazine had gone out of print three years ago – but this was the perfect occasion to bring it back.
Together, OLAY and EBONY partnered with Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and provided $100k in scholarship prizing. We then launched a competition to find accomplished STEM college students in the first STEM-focused HBCU “STEM Queens” contest, awarding 10 winners $10k each to further pursue their STEM ambitions.
We launched the STEM Queen competition online through EBONY’s social, digital and email channels. The public could vote for their favorite STEM Queen, and the 10 lucky winners were selected in October 2021. OLAY then ensured the winners would have an unforgettable experience:
Each STEM Queen received an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to attend EBONY Power 100, including a stage moment. We also arranged a photoshoot for the HBCU ‘STEM Queens’, which then was used as the cover feature on the special edition EBONY x OLAY commemorative print issue – EBONY’s first print edition since 2019.
We further supported the STEM Queens through a virtual mentor session led by OLAY scientists to talk about their careers in STEM, any hardships they overcame and advice for breaking into the field. To ensure accessibility, the sessions were recorded, and the scientists exchanged contact information for continued mentorship for the STEM Queens.
To announce the OLAY x EBONY partnership and the launch of the commemorative issue featuring the STEM Queens, female powerhouse and EBONY CEO, Michele Ghee, was interviewed on Entertainment Tonight!. The landmark EBONY print-issue was released in February 2022 and featured dedicated edit highlighting Procter & Gamble’s (OLAY’s parent company) female executives across beauty and STEM.
OLAY supported the campaign by educating audiences about STEM achievements by women of color on social and digital channels.
The campaign successfully raised awareness of OLAY’s efforts to promote women of color in STEM and affirm to young women that STEM careers are absolutely ‘for them’.
The STEM Queens’ competition received 70 entries in just 48-hours and a whopping 95K votes in 72-hours. The competition alone reached 8M+ on EBONY.com, 7M+ on social, 9M+ on email and 6BN in PR/Earned Media.
The OLAY integration on Entertainment Tonight! featuring EBONY CEO, Michele Ghee earned a 1.78 rating with W18+ (2,276,000 viewers), a +3.5% increase over Entertainment Tonight!’s Jan/Feb/March average.
50,000 copies of the special editions featuring our STEM Queens on the cover were printed, with sales numbers on par with industry standards for newsstand sales.
But more importantly, OLAY gave young women of color in STEM role models on a magazine cover in stores around the US – demonstrating that there are indeed women to look up to and opening their eyes to a possible future in the STEM field.