Real beauty takes to the stage

Dove is taking its pro-age message from the screen to the stage.

Dove is taking its pro-age message from the screen to the stage.

Twelve ‘real’ women will star in the as-yet-unnamed play, to debut at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto next April. Penned by renowned Canadian playwright Judith Thompson, the subject matter will be in line with Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, which aims to change perceptions of beauty and aging.

The idea came from the Toronto arm of Ogilvy & Mather after seeing Menopause Out Loud!, which has the same target group as Dove’s pro-age campaign. ‘[Creative team writer Chris Dacyshyn] noticed how strongly the audience responded to the play,’ says Janet Kestin, co-CCO at Ogilvy in Toronto. ‘The audience was composed of many different types of women…and you could tell some had been to see it more than once. She walked away saying how nobody speaks to [that demographic] and nobody listens to them.’

The project may very well be the first play ever produced by a consumer goods brand, but that didn’t deter anybody at Unilever Canada, says Kestin. The brand is now led by Sharon MacLeod, who stepped in as marketing director of skin care and deodorants after Mark Wakefield moved to Ferrero Rocher. ‘They’re gutsy clients, and experimental – if it feels right, it doesn’t matter if it’s hard.’

Toronto-based agency Capital C created a website to provide ongoing updates on the play and provide a ‘Dear Body Audition Kit’ created by Ogilvy. The virtual kit contains everything women need to gather friends, share their feelings on beauty and aging and even compose their own audition letters.

So far nine women have been chosen, and the search for the final three will conclude this month. Video on the site provides a taste of the poignant humour to come: ‘Dear Body, you have exchanged my tummy for my buttocks.’

Says Kestin: ‘Real women and their real words was an interesting place to start…It’s an opportunity to be seen and heard, and that beauty has no age limit is the bottom line on this.’