Unilever ditches 'normal' from packaging and ads to challenge 'narrow beauty ideals'

Unilever will eliminate the word "normal" from all of its beauty and personal care brands’ packaging and advertising, as part of the launch of its new Positive Beauty vision and strategy. According to Unilever, the decision to remove "normal" is one of the steps that the company is taking to “challenge narrow beauty ideals and work towards helping to end discrimination and advocating for a more inclusive vision of beauty”.

Sunny Jain, president beauty and personal care, Unilever said: “We know that removing ‘normal’ from our products and packaging will not fix the problem alone, but it is an important step forward. It’s just one of a number of actions we are taking as part of our Positive Beauty vision, which aims not only to do less harm, but more good for both people and the planet.

Jain added that with one billion people using beauty and personal care products every day, and even more seeing Unilever’s brand advertising, the company has the power to make a real difference to people’s lives. “As part of this, we are committed to tackling harmful norms and stereotypes and shaping a broader, far more inclusive definition of beauty,” Jain said.

“With more consumers than ever rewarding brands which take action on the social and environmental issues they care about, we believe that Positive Beauty will make us a stronger, and more successful business.”

In addition to removing the word ‘normal’, Unilever will not digitally alter a person’s body shape, size, proportion or skin colour in its brand advertising, and will increase the number of advertisements portraying people from diverse groups who are under-represented.

“Positive Beauty” will set out several progressive commitments and actions for beauty and personal care brands such as Dove, Lifebuoy, Axe and Sunsilk. According to Unilever, it will set out to “champion a new era of beauty which is equitable and inclusive, as well as sustainable for the planet”.

Using Unilever’s technology, “Positive Beauty” will also help to drive a transformation in how products are designed and formulated. Unilever will look to tap into consumer trends to drive “superior product experience”, it said.

The move comes on the back of a 10,000-person study, which was commissioned by Unilever, across nine markets which found that more than half of people (56%) think that the beauty and personal care industry can make people feel excluded. Consumers said that they want to see the beauty and personal care industry focusing more on making people feel better, than just looking better. More than half of respondents (52%) said they now pay more attention to a company’s stance on societal issues before buying products.

Seven in 10 people agree that using the word ‘normal’ on product packaging and advertising has a negative impact. For younger people – those aged 18-35 – this rises to eight in 10.

As part of this commitment, Unilever will also champion causes such as health and wellbeing, and advance equity and inclusion, aiming to reach 1 billion people per year by 2030. The company will focus on helping to end discrimination in beauty and champion inclusion, by challenging narrow beauty ideals and building a more inclusive portfolio of products. Driving gender equity, including stepping up brand programmes, advocacy to challenge the status quo and #unstereotyping advertising.

The company will also focus on improving health and wellbeing through existing educational initiatives in handwashing and oral hygiene and expand focus into new areas, including physical health and mental wellbeing.

Other areas Unilever promises to focus on include supporting the ban on animal testing for cosmetics by 2023 and helping to protect and regenerate 1.5 million hectares of land, forests and oceans by 2030, which is more land than is required to grow the renewable ingredients in Unilever’s beauty and personal care products.

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Photo courtesy: 123RF

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