As companies around the world move towards more inclusivity and sensitivity, global consumer giant Unilever has announced that it is banning excessive editing of models’ photos used in its advertising and marketing. It will also stop using the word ‘normal’ in descriptions of its beauty products.
The UK-based company – which has brands such as Dove, Sunsilk, Lifebuoy, Glow & Lovely (renamed from Fair & Lovely), Rexona and Aviance – says it want to create a “more inclusive definition of beauty”.
It has previously been criticised over allegations that it promoted stereotypes around dark skin tones.
Photoshopping ban affects adverts and influencers
Unilever said it aimed to remove “all digital alterations to body shape, size, proportion and skin colour” from its advertising. The ban will also cover social media influencers paid by the company to promote products.
The removal of the word ‘normal’ will affect the packaging of around 200 products and is scheduled to be completed within a year. The aim is to address concerns that corporate idea of ‘normal’ can be exclusive if it is conceived in terms of a single racial or demographic group.
In addition, Unilever plans to use “more natural, biodegradable and regenerative ingredients across our product portfolio”.
The company’s President for Beauty and Personal Care Products, Sunny Jain, said consumers were increasingly rewarding brands that took action on environmental and social issues. He said the personal beauty campaign would make the company more successful.
Removing ‘normal’ is an important step forward
“We know that removing ‘normal’ from our products and packaging will not fix the problem alone, but it is an important step forward,” he said. ‘Normal’ is frequently used in product descriptions for face products, shampoos and conditioners.
According to Jain, Unilever will also emphasise activist marketing, by “taking a stand on the issues we know consumers care about and communicating that to consumers”.
Speaking to the BBC, Sophie Lund-Yates of retail investment company Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The world’s consumer base is becoming increasingly aware of social issues, and the threat of boycotts and backlashes means giants like Unilever are right to try and avoid PR headaches.”