- Olay is launching a new campaign to help end discriminatory computer algorithms that skew standards of beauty, per an announcement emailed to Marketing Dive. The effort coincides with National Coding Week (Sept. 14-20).
- #DecodetheBias consists of raising awareness of algorithmic justice through a 60-second spot, targeted print campaign and social media. The Procter & Gamble-owned brand is also teaming with activist Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, to conduct an audit of its own practices and nonprofit Black Girls Code to help send 1,000 girls of color to code camp.
- The campaign sees Olay extending its purpose-driven marketing by working toward company commitments to increase diversity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Olay's latest campaign aims to raise awareness of computer algorithms that reinforce exclusionary standards of beauty. The issue arises in part because white males account for the majority of U.S. computer programmers, whose own standards are reflected in their designs, from social media to search engines. The result is an exclusive digital ecosystem that is biased against minority demographics, particularly women of color.
By focusing on diversifying the pool of U.S. coders in order to achieve a more inclusive definition of beauty, Olay's campaign demonstrates the kind of authenticity that consumers want to see in brand activism. The effort sees Olay partnering with Black Girls Code to send at least 1,000 girls of color to the organization's code camp, as well as conducting an audit of its own skin analysis technology — moves that exemplify the kind of effort Olay is calling for from other brands.
The inclusion of Buolamwini in the brand's audit in addition to a 60-second spot and national print campaign could show further commitment to the cause. Buolamwini was recently the focus of "Coded Bias," a documentary released on Netflix last year that explores her findings of biases in facial recognition technology. The success of the film, which currently holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, could lend additional credibility and buzz to Olay's campaign.
#DecodetheBias builds on Olay's commitment to double the number of women and triple the number of women of color in STEM by 2030, per the announcement. The brand launched an all-female, astronaut-themed campaign during 2020's Super Bowl to highlight such careers to young girls. Olay returned with an effort last fall that featured real women who work in STEM fields delivering messages coded in computer programming languages and scientific formulas.
The campaign's launch during National Coding Week adds a timely element that could elevate its relevance to consumers. In kind, the use of a hashtag could help to drive awareness on social sites like Twitter and Instagram, where consumers are encouraged to post in order to help the brand send more girls of color (up to 1,200 total) to code camp.
Other brands in the beauty industry have made efforts toward creating change in the digital world. Rival Dove activated TikTok earlier this year to fight body distortion online. The Unilever-owned brand launched a similar campaign the previous month to raise awareness of how social media platforms can harm self-confidence in preteen girls.