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Selfridges The Beauty Project

An attempt at undermining female stereotyping, or a hypocritical marketing scheme?

The offer to go and hear some prominent female journalists speak (including Tiffanie Darke, Tanya Gold and Tania Bryer), whilst soaking up the luxe atmosphere of Selfridges’ infamous beauty counter, is at first an appealing evening out. Selfridge’s Beauty Project is a six week programme designed to raise awareness of concerns over the ‘pinkification’ of young girls – the dangerous stereotyping of women, often resulting in low self-esteem and a desire to please. The campaign seems like a brilliant way of engaging a variety of consumers; those seeking to hear these stand out achievers speak, those hoping to pick up some free Selfridges gear, and those perhaps just looking to learn a bit more about this new wave of brand-aware feminism. See Proctor & Gamble’s Always ad which utilises Twitter’s growing feminist collective to promote the #Likeagirl, questioning why we describe negative actions as like a girl. The issue I have with Selfridges’ The Beauty Project is that it plays on a cultural anxiety; the hyper-sexualisation and subordination of women, to encourage attendees at its beauty salon. Furthermore it’s sponsored by Dove, who promote their ‘body beautiful’ outlook, whilst sharing their owner Unilever with Lynx – whose adverts consistently offend mainstream feminist thought. The Selfridges campaign is fraught with contradictions – it encourages consumption on the back of a contentious issue and its sponsorship is too transparent. Gender equality is being utilised in campaigns (like the Always ad) sparking debate, interaction and awareness. Perhaps high street stores will learn from the digital agency frontrunners and future campaigns might avoid Selfridge’s blatant hypocrisy.  

This article was written by Tazie Taysom, former consultant at Hanson Search.

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