From You’re Worth It to Stand up, how L’Oréal Paris’ communication has empowered women over the years
How L'Oréal Paris’ communication has evolved over the years
The evolution of L'Oréal Paris’ ‘You are worth it’ tagline

From You’re Worth It to Stand up, how L’Oréal Paris’ communication has empowered women over the years

The evolution of L'Oréal Paris’ ‘You are worth it’ tagline
  • Fifty years ago on International Women’s Day, L'Oréal Paris revolutionized the advertising world with the phrase, ‘Because I'm Worth It,’ spreading the message of respect and recognition for women.
  • Pau Gruart – General Manager, L'Oréal Paris - India walks us through the campaign's evolution and shares some key highlights it has seen over the years.
L'Oréal Paris’ iconic tagline ‘You are worth it’ completed 50 years yesterday. It was way ahead of its time as it was launched when there was almost hardly an active conversation on women empowerment, at least in India. It was as recent as 2020 when FMCG giants selling beauty and skin care products were made to realise that portraying that women with lighter skin tones have a higher acceptability in our society, is problematic. This led to them finally changing their product names and taglines. Across the world, advertising had not given a voice to women until the late 70s; their husbands were talking for them. But on the occasion of International Women’s Day, a 23-year-old copywriter came up with the tagline ‘Because you’re worth it’ 50 years ago and it revolutionised the advertising industry.

The first global ad came out in 1973 featuring film actor Joanne Dusseau. It was about her preference and her review of a product.

In the 1980s, the tagline was changed from ‘Because I am worth it’ to ‘You are worth it’ because L'Oréal wanted to empower all women and celebrate solidarity.

L'Oréal, for half a century, has encouraged women to feel a little more comfortable in their bodies, skin tones and shapes. It has nudged women to look at themselves in the mirror and remind themselves that ‘You Are Worth It.’The tagline still remains top of the mind of consumers and has been a clutter-breaking idea.

Taking us back to the day when the tagline was born, Pau Gruart – General Manager, L’Oreal Paris - India said, “This tagline has been an inspiration to many and is celebrating 50 years and is still as relevant as ever! A young copywriter with McCann Erickson, Ilon Specht, created this iconic line, as part of an advertisement that was purely from the point of view of women and her self-confidence, her decision, her style. These four words have become what the brand stands for and have proven to be timeless. Today, we know that whenever anyone hears ‘Because You’re Worth It’, they instantly relate it to L’Oréal Paris. And we are working to translate this tagline into action every day in its celebration and thought for women, products, and the brand message.”

The campaign started by trying to establish women as smart individuals and remind the audience that women are more than just their outer appearance. By 2006, it featured women of colour and sizes and started focusing on diversity. Hair was not just blonde anymore; it was black, brown, purple and any colour that women wanted to choose.

They featured pregnant women, women in hijab, older women that are often neglected by beauty brands, women with disabilities, bigger women and is on a mission to keep its communication as diverse.

Walking us through the campaign's evolution, Gruart said, “Our communication has evolved along the same trajectory as what empowerment has meant for women over the course of the last 50 years, and we have tried to do so hand in hand with our spokespeople. From celebrating the freedom to make your own choices or the right to wear make-up the way you want to, to celebrating each other’s uniqueness and diversity, our aim is to inspire all women with our talented and diverse group of spokespeople. One of the brand’s most iconic campaigns is without a doubt the 1973 campaign of Preference where the slogan “I’m worth it” was born. If you look at some of our most recent campaigns, you will see that the spirit is the same but the way in which is expressed has been adapted to the times we live so that it stays relevant to today’s generations.”

Casting for ‘You are worth it’

L’Oréal Paris has featured talented women like Beyonce, Viola Davis, Sonam Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Aditi Rao Hydari, Deepika Padukone, Nidhi Sunil to name a few.

On what goes behind selecting these brand ambassadors, Gruart shared, “Our products are created for women from all across the globe, therefore our spokespersons must be as diverse and inclusive as the world itself, to truly represent the women we are talking to. But they must also symbolise the empowerment we communicate. Throughout the years, women from across the world have been relating to the landmark phrase: "Because You’re Worth it". These four ageless words are an impression of a women to express themselves freely. From Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Eva Longoria, Viola Davis, etc - this diverse and talented group of women symbolize the synergy between the brand and their outstanding personalities, each of them strong and a force to reckon in their own fields. These women have been an inspiration to the others and have shown every woman the right to be whoever she wants to be and reinvent herself in any way she wants in different ways.”

Latest campaign: Stand Up

In 2019, L’Oréal decided to extend its campaign and find out the most important issue women face in their daily lives. They discovered that the number one issue faced by women and girls around the world was street harassment. It later reached out to Ipsos to investigate the scale of sexual harassment in public spaces. The interntional survey found that 78% of women have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces (4 in every 5 women). And of those - only 25% say someone helped. The main reason why: because 86% of women do not know what to do when we witness harassment.

The brand is now reaffirming its commitment to protecting individual self-worth through its training program, Stand Up Against Street Harassment, which was launched in India in November 2020 in partnership with NGO Breakthrough.

It also launched an advertisement to encourage more people to join the movement.

Sharing the thought behind Stand Up, Gruart said, “At L’Oréal Paris, our sense of purpose is to empower women. As a brand we are committed to addressing the barriers standing between women and their full ambition, to help them walk freely toward their destiny. Street harassment has no borders. It happens everywhere, every day, taking away the right to feel safe in the public space. It is an intrusion into women’s daily lives, it can make them feel powerless, and that can impact their sense of self-worth. It’s the exact opposite of the female empowerment L’Oréal Paris champions.”

“Our ambition is to train 1 million people on the 5D methodology by the end of 2021, therefore empowering women and men to stand up, creating a movement of upstanders. We have seen an incredible response to this program, globally, and even more so in India,” he added.

To this day, 1,50,000 people have been trained with Stand Up. Currently activated in France, Spain, Argentina, Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Italy and India with local charity partners, the Stand Up Against Street Harassment program will grow to another 10 countries starting on March 8th, 2021, in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Ukraine, Israel, Turkey, Indonesia, Thailand and the Caribbean region.

From instilling self-confidence and polishing self-worth, L’Oréal Paris will focus on bringing more action-oriented campaigns across the world.

“In my view, it is essential for brands to walk the talk. Well-known brands like L’Oréal Paris have the opportunity to leverage the respect and love they enjoy to spread awareness and education on critical issues, especially if they link with what that brand stands for. Giving back to the community gives brands a true purpose that goes beyond business,” said Gruart.

L’Oréal Paris would continue focusing on three key areas - the planet, the people, its products – with multiple initiatives and day-to-day actions to achieve its goals.