Traditional communications around women’s shaving products tend to revolve around women frolicking on the beach in white bikinis. Gillette Venus’ My Skin. My Way campaign turned this one its head. By showcasing women’s stories of how they learned to love the skin they’re in, the campaign challenged what is conventionally defined as beautiful. It advocates for confidence. For women to feel empowered to embrace their skin as part of their identity. From a C-section scar, to stretch marks and birth marks – our skins are part of what make us unique.
Marcelle Eckstein, Senior Brand Manager at Gillette Venus South Africa – a Procter & Gamble (P&G) brand – says the campaign was a reinvention of the brand to articulate its purpose. “Gillette Venus has long recognised that we all shave differently, according to the skin we’re in. You shave your skin, your way. We wanted to meaningfully extend this conversation. We know it’s easy to pay lip service to this topic. So, we onboarded a psychologist to provide free services to women who contacted her via our Facebook page. We wanted to deepen our impact and encourage women to celebrate their skin and the journey it represents.”
Eckstein says it marked a massive brand change for Venus globally. The campaign featured an eight-part series of women defying skin conventions. In South Africa, these aired on Expresso Morning Show. “We wanted to showcase powerful stories of women who have turned skin adversity into positivity. Male model Chad Esau – who has Vitiligo (a condition where the skin loses its pigment cells) – also joined the campaign to share his story and support the women involved.”
Fierce and inspiring messages
The messages from the women were fierce and inspiring. Marika, who has congenital nevi (birthmarks), said ‘there’s no me without my skin’. Kyisha, a new mom, shared how her C-section scar is now a ‘site of celebration’. Azra spoke of how her stretch marks represent power, ‘they track how my body has changed and how strong I’ve become over the years’. And Alexandra said, ‘my scars are a symbol of everything I overcame’.
The launch of the campaign sparked a meaningful exchange on social media, with people sharing their stories of loving the skin they’re in. Local influencers were carefully chosen to lead the conversation – from @zolfreckles with her trademark freckles, to body positivity content creator and clothing store owner @thickleeyonce and body positivity philanthropist @boitumelo_spotted. All the influencers involved were passionate about the campaign, which came across in their social posts and encouraged engagement.
Helpful insights from a psychologist
The psychologist played a pivotal part in providing gravitas, with helpful insights and free assistance to women who reached out to her through the Gillette Venus Facebook page. Eckstein adds, “Our psychologist was so keen to work on the campaign, she was willing to continue the partnership for a longer period.”
As a final activation, Gillette Venus had a stand at the Cosmo Summer Party, where it had a giant Venus Shell for people to stand inside – like Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. This generated lots of conversation, with people sharing their My Skin. My Way stories.
Eckstein concludes, “This was an exercise in us reigniting the brand to make sure we’re top of people’s hearts and minds. But, more than that, we wanted to use our platform to contribute to breaking down barriers, challenging conventional ideas of beauty and fostering body positivity. The journey to self-love is not always an easy one. We wanted to provide real value, by sharing inspiring women’s stories. By seeing them celebrating their skins, we hope other women will be inspired to embrace the skin they’re in, and everything it stands for.”