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case studies
05 . 06 . 19

L’Oréal and Vogue’s very physical stand against ageism

Words by: Print Power
The quality of attention that magazines like Vogue command has a rub effect for advertisers like L’Oréal – particularly when it comes to purpose
Jane Fonda High Res Print.jpg

The power of print at a glance

  • In a transient media landscape, print is the perfect medium for bringing quality attention to important issues
  • The emotional and journalistic integrity of print magazines have a rub effect for advertisers

A special issue of Vogue released in April, featuring the sometimes leg-warmer clad, sometimes space-faring actress, activist, fashion model and fitness guru Jane Fonda, flies in the face of a youth-obsessed culture where the over 50s – and particularly women in that group – feel almost invisible.

This so-called Non-Issue, released with the May issue of the mag, was the idea of L’Oréal Paris and McCann in an effort to make an unfamiliar, albeit refreshingly positive, statement about ageing. And by committing their message to print, the medium made an invisible generation of women visible.

In the words of Rob Brown, executive creative director at McCann Worldgroup UK and part of the team behind the project, “the aim was to shift the unconscious negative bias towards older people, particularly women. To challenge the societal stereotypes around ageing by normalising. To represent these women with an empowered statement that positively shaped everyone’s perception of age. Ultimately, to look forward to getting older…”

Cover High Res.jpg
Jane 2 High Res Print.jpg

The team at McCann first identified through consumer insight that the target audience seldom saw themselves within fashion, beauty and the wider media landscape; yet paradoxically, women aged 50 and above are the fastest growing demographic in the world.  

Next came a neat twist on the Vogue formula, one where all the models, not just the model on the front cover, but the photographer, the make-up artist and contributing writers would be aged 50-plus. Equally, all the editorial, fashion stories, advertorials and even the print ads for L’Oréal would be exclusively geared towards mature women.

“The Non-Issue is a physical stake in the ground against ageism,” Brown adds. In an increasingly digital-centric, albeit transient media landscape, print media was the medium to manifest these ideas into reality. The quality of attention that magazines like Vogue command also has an enviable rub effect for advertisers like L’Oréal – particularly when it comes to purpose

“A generation of women, too often unseen and unheard, could hold and interact with something made exclusively for and about them,” says Brown. “Crucially, younger generations held a glimpse of their own futures in their hands. A better future, where age is a non-issue.”

“The Non-Issue isn’t only a powerful statement on an issue neglected by society at large, but living proof that print advertising, particularly when twinned with a societal belief, can leave a lasting impression.

Beyond the magazine, the message transcended analogue with a strong presence on and across digital platforms, to amplify the reach of the editorial and enrich wider conversations. The team even used augmented reality tech via Facebook messenger to give the women in the Non-Issue not just a face, but a voice.  

British Vogue remains one of fashion’s trend-setting and trail-blazing titles. Its front page cover is hallowed ground for many a bright young thing, and the destination to land this idea.

“We wanted the idea of the Non-Issue to truly resonate,” says Brown “so the medium was as important as the message. The print medium not only captured the relevant demographic, but allowed enough editorial dwell time to truly represent every aspect of this overlooked generation. Unprecedented in its size at Vogue, the magazine gave the target an intimate sense of ownership to immerse themselves in something exclusively curated and created by like-minded women.”