Cannes Lions

Cost of Beauty

MINDSHARE, New York / DOVE / 2024


1 Bronze Cannes Lions
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Case Film
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Kids are experiencing severe mental health issues from the onslaught of seemingly endless toxic beauty content on social media. Anxiety, depression, self-harm, eating disorders, PTSD, and even suicide - the harm social media can cause has no limits. Because neither does social media. In fact, the majority of young girls say they feel the pressure to look perfect and match what they see on social media. Our brief was twofold: first, highlight the scale of the social media-induced mental health crisis among kids; and second, inspire the world to act, demand change, and save kids from the dire consequences of toxic beauty content. Our goal was to mobilize the masses by creating a single, shareable film and get viewers to sign the petition to support the Kids Online Safety Act.


Toxic beauty content is devastating the mental health of 3 in 5 kids, with an entire generation in crisis. To take action, Dove wanted to support the Kids Online Safety Act. To inspire others to do the same, we told the story of Mary; a girl who almost lost her life from an eating disorder. However, we didn’t need to film her story, Mary already had. Using her own photos, videos, and journal entries, spanning over a decade, we created a film that shows her downward spiral after getting her first phone and joining social media. Then we set it to an emotional female cover of Joe Cocker’s iconic song, ‘You Are So Beautiful to Me,’ reimagined by popular musician, Self Esteem. In the end, we learn this isn’t just Mary’s story. It’s the story of millions of other girls.


Young girls are paying a heavy price for toxic beauty content-- a cost our society cannot afford. We needed parents to understand that their daughters' appearance dissatisfaction isn’t just a passing phase. It's a deeply serious issue driven by relentless comparison on social media, capable of leading to profound mental health issues like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and even suicide.

To ensure our message resonated, we launched a film about the harms of social media designed to run on social media. However, the platforms banned the film in paid media almost instantly, drastically reducing its reach. We had to pivot quickly, so we bought a 3-minute ad placement during one of the UK’s most popular shows for young women—Love Island. The film aired uninterrupted, in entirety, bringing our message to those who needed it the most, while hijacking online conversation and driving views and shares of the organic video.


After creating the film, we launched it on major social media platforms notorious for toxic beauty content. Our aim was to disrupt viewers mid-scroll and confront them with the harmthis content causes. However, social platforms rejected our paid placements of the film. So, we adjusted our media plan and aired the entire 3-minute film during an episode of one of TV’s most toxic shows--Love Island. This move sparked a massive reaction, hijacking the social conversation surrounding the show for the evening, while driving viewers to watch the film in our organic placements.


The Love Island airing of the film garnered 39.5M impressions. On social media, there were over 39K+ tweets in 10 minutes, ranking Dove in the top trending topics on X (formerly Twitter) that evening. It also helped inspire legislative reform in the UK, with the House of Lords passing new measures to help keep kids safe online.

As of today, the film has received 69M+ views, +11.1B+ total impressions and is the most shared Dove film of all time, with earned media coverage in 190 placements including NBC, Women’s Health, and Teen Vogue. Dove doubled its goal of 50,000 petition signatures for the Kids Online Safety Act. Now, with support of 62 Senators and tech companies like Microsoft, X, and Snapchat, the bill is poised to pass the American Senate.

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