Beauty Without Judgement

There is no quick fix to such a complex cultural issue as beauty cyberbullying, but brands like Rimmel London have the opportunity and responsibility to play their part in creating positive social change.

Nick Docherty

Head of Strategy BETC


Rimmel London has made its name as both an icon and champion of self-expression. To understand how the brand could genuinely help people explore their own personal definition of beauty without fear of judgement, there was a need to get under the digital skin of an increasingly image-obsessed society.

A global study of over 11,000 women aged 16-25 was commissioned to explore the cultural impact of beauty cyberbullying. The resulting report ‘Beauty Cyberbullying - Expression Repression’ acted as a wake-up-call to the scale of the problem.

1 in 4 women have experienced beauty cyberbullying; 46% of women who have experienced cyberbullying have self-harmed either through an eating disorder, substance abuse or physical self-harm; 57% of women who have experienced cyberbullying didn’t tell anyone and suffered in silence; 32% have closed a social media account and 22% have deleted an image due to cyberbullying.

There is no quick fix to such a complex cultural issue, but beauty brands like Rimmel have the opportunity and responsibility to play their part in creating positive social change.

One data point from the study stood out from the rest, a testament to the self-censorship and repressed self-expression people are in constant battle with: 115 million images are deleted each year as a result of cyberbullying. This was a problem that we felt compelled to do something about.

number of images deleted each year as a result of cyberbullying
1 in 4 women
have experienced beauty cyberbullying

Rimmel London, '#IWillNotBeDeleted'

115 million images deleted every year represents lives torn apart, not just pixel dragged into the trash. A human problem at this kind of scale required a solution of equal power. So, BETC London and Rimmel decided to give cyberbullying’s real-life victims their voices back. The genuine loss of confidence and sense of self that all the victims we talked to had in common led to the campaign’s bold, single-minded message of empowerment: ‘I Will Not Be Deleted’.

This served as the backbone for all our communications, an unapologetic statement of pride for anyone who’s ever felt bullied for showing who they are online.

The campaign was both global and digitally-led. A full spread of assets were released, led by a hero film and backed up with a series of group discussions featuring fourteen real victims of beauty bullying from around the world. From Sheffield-based beauty influencer Tess Daly, who lost the use of her right hand during her GCSEs and now uses make-up as her creative outlet, to Ascia, an American-Kuwaiti blogger, entrepreneur and fashion designer, who is often bullied for breaking cultural beauty norms.

We captured the essence of their stories in a hero film, which took inspiration from the powerful pacing and emotional accessibility of beat poetry. All the lyrics that each cast member delivered were shaped in partnership with British Soul, R&B artist Ray BLK.

Hearing these stories, and feeling passionately about our cause, campaign ambassadors Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora helped amplify our cast’s voices further by using their platforms to bring the problem of beauty cyberbullying to the public’s attention.

The whole campaign was delivered in partnership with Cybersmile, a UK based charity who give tools and support to victims of bullying. Following our successful launch during Anti-Bullying week, the partnership will result in the launch of an artificial intelligence tool in early 2019, one meant to direct those seeking help to the right resources, helplines, and organizations.

The results exceeded all our expectations. We’ve since seen defiant captions and beautiful portraits of people as they stand up and vow to never again delete pictures of themselves from social media. User generated content has been created around the world by a community of those affected by the issue and who now feel empowered to stand up for themselves, using the hashtag ‘I will not be deleted’.

The campaign achieved widespread coverage in major publications including The Pool, PopSugar, The Drum and BBC world news. Byrdie titled their article ‘This powerful Rimmel Beauty Video Will Change the Way You Use Instagram’. And Dove posted the campaign on their Instagram feed and story, wholeheartedly backing the empowering message of the campaign.

Ultimately this is just the start of a broader commitment from Rimmel to stand up for everybody’s right to self-expression, without fear of judgement.

BETC, London
Guest Author

Nick Docherty

Head of Strategy BETC


Nick is a global strategist with nearly twenty years’ experience working across every discipline and category there is. He’s worked at agencies including Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and, before BETC, spent almost decade with Wieden+Kennedy. He’s contributed to some of the world’s most effective, awarded campaigns, including work for Dove, Corona,, Heineken and Bud Light. Nick’s thinking led to the Cannes Effectiveness Grand Prix for Heineken and an IPA Effectiveness Award for the Department of Transport and THINK!

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