Redefining Beauty: The Power Of CGI To Deliver On Corporate Social Responsibility

4 Min Read |

It’s no secret that beauty brands are changing the way they advertise in keeping with the latest media platforms, sustainability initiatives and efforts to portray “real women” of all body shapes, sizes and ethnicities. It all comes down to corporate social responsibility (CSR), promoting natural and achievable standards of beauty that appeal to audiences on a deeply emotional level.

That’s why, in a move away from traditional marketing, the beauty industry has embraced a new wave of creative thinking and multi-channel content. Taking advantage of the latest production technologies, we have a chance to redefine beauty for the next generation.

Free As A Dove

In a digital world, where the customer journey is no longer linear, audiences are free to conduct their own research. They can swipe right from news sites to social media in seconds. They can watch TV and surf the internet simultaneously. Consumers read online reviews, watch YouTube tutorials, catch up with celebrity advice on Twitter – and even check the ethics of companies they do business with.

To keep consumers satisfied, the beauty industry needs to embrace corporate social responsibility. According to research by Barkley, Generation Z cares about body positivity, social activism, and working for their own success, among other ‘authentic’ traits.

Just look at Dove, a personal care and beauty brand that has long been associated with socially conscious standpoints. In 2004, Dove launched its ‘Real Beauty’ campaign which still exists today. Real Beauty celebrates women of all shapes, sizes and colors, helping them to feel beautiful in their own skin and putting a diverse range of models in the spotlight.

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“I got an opportunity to be part of a change I’ve been yearning for, seeing different looking women represented in media. For me, it’s about seeing Hijabee’s well represented too … real women in their normal, different lives who set real goals of self-love” ???? This is what Project #ShowUs means to @hijabeefied ???? Ibtisam wants to show the world there’s beauty in every woman, in modesty, and however you choose to express your beauty ✨ Click the link in our bio to find out more about Project #ShowUs ???? @girlgaze ????: @lafrohemien ???????? #Dove #ShowUs #RealBeauty #Goals #SelfLove #BeautyStandards #Hijab #Hijabee #Women #Beauty #girlgaze #GettyImages

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Similarly, Ulta Beauty’s recent video campaign features not just those who might be considered model-beautiful, but everyday women, girls and others who want to bring out their best in whatever situation. Created in partnership with McCann New York, ‘The Possibilities Are Beautiful’ features a woman at a military academy, a colorful muralist, a schoolgirl, a businesswoman and many other cast members that break the mold of traditional beauty.

Not only is this a socially responsible advertising strategy, it’s also a smart one. In 2017, a survey by Campaign magazine found that 47% of respondents prefer adverts featuring ordinary people. Brands like Dove and Ultra Beauty have used relatable, emotional marketing to kickstart the conversation around corporate social responsibility – proof that new creative ideas can help to inspire a different track of thinking and build positive brand awareness.

Redefining Beauty

It’s the responsibility of creative production studios to help the industry realise what is now possible. Taking focus off the female body, campaigns can now be run with CGI at the core, fused with film and photography for maximum realism. Gone are the days of rigorous shoots and ‘airbrushed’ photography.

We recently released a short film called ‘Redefining Beauty’ at Saddington Baynes – a series of digital art that explores the power of CGI and visual effects to modernise the way beauty is portrayed. Taking reference from iconic trailblazers such as Alexander McQueen and Kevyn Aucoin, the film challenges traditional depictions of beauty. From powder explosions to faces made of lipstick, ‘Redefining Beauty’ uses the flexibility of CGI to push forward a new way of advertising.

It’s important that brands, agencies and creative production studios all join in the conversation around corporate social responsibility within the beauty industry, visualising how we can rethink marketing strategies in response to shifting values and multimedia engagement.

Redefining Beauty from Saddington Baynes on Vimeo.

Commitment To Authenticity

The way we see beauty, and the way we advertise it, is no doubt changing. But why? Engagement across social media is perhaps one of the biggest factors. A single viral video or negative tweet can have far-reaching repercussions for brand reputation. This is particularly true via Instagram – the platform dominated by Millennials and Generation Z. As a result, beauty brands are striving to be more authentic as part of their overarching CSR, in an effort to secure the trust of consumers.

Recently, many influencer campaigns have been derailed by obvious product endorsement, cosmetic enhancements or controversial ambassadors, leading to a loss of trust in the market. That’s not to say the age of influencer marketing is over. Instead, the most effective campaigns encourage users not to buy into ‘Insta-perfect’ lives. Challenges like #NoMakeup and #FreeThePimple portray more realistic, natural standards of beauty.

Alternative creative strategies are being tapped to best convey authenticity and strengthen brand trust. Gucci stands out by populating their Instagram feed with artistic illustrations, Boohoo taps into pop culture by creating uniquely branded memes, and Jo Malone is converting all product photography into stylised CGI images and animation.

CGI opens the door to advertising that actually focuses on a brand’s message, rather than its models and influencers. Furthermore, that message can be personalised to any market, any demographic, any person – and be inclusive of all types of beauty in any part of the world.

What if we cast aside unrealistic beauty standards and damaging ideologies? What if we made every person in every culture feel inspired, validated and beautiful with our advertising? That’s the message of initiatives like Redefining Beauty, which show that highlighting natural and achievable standards of beauty is not only effective for resonating with consumers, but it’s also the right and responsible thing to do.

About the Author: Chris Christodoulou is the CEO of Saddington Baynes, a London based creative production studio. Christodoulou joined Saddington Baynes in 1994 as a digital retoucher. Now, over 20 years later, Christodoulou is the CEO and driving force behind company growth. He pushed Saddington Baynes to become one of the first studios to harness CGI in-house. Saddington Baynes’ mission is to create sensational imagery that inspires brand devotion. To achieve this, Christodoulou teamed up with neuromarketing consultancy Neurostrata to develop Engagement Insights® – a world-first approach to measuring the nonconscious, emotional impact of imagery using neuroscience techniques.