A brand dedicated to makeup that hires an international star to make him say that women can do without makeup… Can you believe it? Yet it is L’Oréal Paris’ surprising choice. The brand has offered the services of its muse, the famous British actress Kate Winslet, in a commercial that looks like personal development coaching. But what is the significance of this approach? Should this be seen as a sincere and militant gesture or is it an unfair marketing strategy to cover things up? Answers from specialists in advertising and feminism Wash†
” I’m worth it. It feels so good to say that. I’m worth it. This phrase is magical. » In a commercial, stamped L’Oréal Paris, British actress Kate Winslet unrolls a three-minute sequential monologue in which she invites viewers to wonder about this notion of value. “I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘It’s easy for her to say that. She gets her hair and makeup done for hours to look like this. Of course she feels she’s worth it.’ Because beauty is like a superpower, isn’t it? † Unless you decide to remove your makeup at night when you get home?
It’s to twist the neck of this vision of value and beauty that the British actress removes her makeup in front of the camera in a devoted speech, believed to empower women, whether they’re made up or not. “What’s really complicated for all of us is that we can feel ‘worth it’ without all of that.”adds L’Oréal’s muse in a gesture to her face.
“To be worth living is to give yourself the right to be yourself, to stay in your truth, with your body, your skin and your face that will change over the years. †
Kate Winslet in an ad from L’Oréal
A “strong dissonance”
The speech is powerful, dedicated to several generations of women and girls who are clubbed to death by advertising images encouraging them to always be younger, more beautiful, thinner, whiter… L’Oréal Paris, one of the brands of the L group ‘Oréal then chose to buck this trend by posting this video to his Facebook and Instagram pages, among other similar publications featuring Viola Davis, star of the series How to get away with murder?the American actress Eva Longoria or even the Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello and the Ethiopian model Liya Kebede.
Problem: Isn’t L’Oréal a brand that has been promoting this image of the perfect woman since its inception and making consumers feel guilty for buying makeup and miracle creams? The Les Lionnes association, which specializes in the fight against moral, sexist and sexual violence in the advertising and communication sector, notes precisely in this campaign a “strong dissonance” from L’Oréal Paris, despite a “sincere intention” to make women feel feel better about themselves.
“Brands that are not on a mission will always be in mission recovery. †
Association of Lionesses
“On all its other brands, the L’Oréal group bluffs us with images of women wearing makeup with the aim of inducing women to consume cosmetic products. Here we are told that our value is not attached to that…”explains the association, contacted by POSITIVE who also sees a form of hypocrisy in this series of videos where the message of the brand takes precedence over the message of the person put forward.
“Kate Winslet without makeup… stay Kate Winslet with all her talent! This is not an actress who became known for her physique. It would have been more interesting to ask her where her strength comes from that allowed her to get to where she is now and, a priori, it’s not because every morning in her mirror she said to herself ‘because I’m worth it'”† A formula that the actress repeats ten times during her monologue and which she, like her fellow muses, presents as a “magic expression”, a miracle “positive thought” to feel better and feel empowered. †
For Léa Lejeune, journalist and author of washing feminism† when companies fix the cause of womenPublished by Editions du Seuil, this campaign also represents a form of “opportunism” from L’Oréal. “Make-up exists because we are complex, our skin is constantly presented as imperfect. This view is partly linked to advertisements for make-up and beauty products”explains the reporter. “At the same time, L’Oréal tells us we could do without it. The creator of the problem becomes the solver. So yes, there’s an opportunism in the message to make the brand look more feminist than it is, but at the same time, this is a company that treats women well internally, in general.”†
To make her point, Léa Lejeune refers to an independent researcher’s statistics on salaries applied within the company. “The pay gap is almost non-existent”† According to the author, L’Oréal has also implemented several internal measures that deserve to be highlighted as: “an international commission to consider discrimination and representation, company crèches to help women at work, or even a mechanism to report instances of sexist or moral harassment or discrimination”† A necessity in view of certain testimonials published on the Instagram account of the agency Balance ton, in which sexist or homophobic comments heard within L’Oréal could be reported.
The Lionesses also mention the existence, within L’Oréal, of a program to combat street harassment, targeting both men and women, and other campaigns conducted about equal pay or equality in business. An example of good practice that in no way erases the problems associated with companies fighting for the sole purpose of promoting and repeating their slogan as a liberating and emancipatory mantra.