LONDON — Rimmel London, the Coty-owned makeup brand, is taking up arms against cyberbullies in a global, digital campaign that’s set to launch on Nov. 12 with backing from Cara Delevingne, Rita Ora and charity The Cybersmile Foundation.
The brand has a number of reasons for espousing the cause, including being a victim of online bullying itself. In an interview on the sidelines of the launch, Michael Bryce, chief marketing officer Color Cosmetics at Coty, recalled a recent Rimmel perfect match foundation campaign where models’ images had not been retouched.
“We wanted people to be themselves in these foundations, and the number of negative comments we saw was shocking. In the Rita [Ora] campaign, people were saying, ‘Her skin is terrible. What’s she doing? Why does she have so much acne?’ Really harsh comments. Although we were already developing this campaign, we said to ourselves, ‘This is something we really need to stand up against.’”
The campaign is called “I Will Not Be Deleted,” referring to all the times bullying victims have pulled down pictures that incited bullying or deleted nasty comments aimed at them on social media. Bryce said the partnership with Cybersmile is initially three years, although Rimmel’s commitment is long term.
Rimmel plans to create an online space where young people can share their experiences and will also launch Cybersmile Assistant, an advanced, AI-driven tool to help those affected by beauty cyberbullying.
Users across Rimmel’s 10 international markets, including the U.K., the U.S., Poland and Spain, will be able to link directly to support services. Initially launching in English in early 2019, the virtual assistant will be rolled out in several languages and recommend approved local resources, help lines and organizations for those affected by beauty cyberbullying.
Rimmel has also produced a short film with women talking about their experiences as victims of bullying, and produced a research paper with results from 11,000 women worldwide, aged 16-25.
According to the paper, one in four women is harassed online about her looks, and 115 million images are deleted each year due to bullying. Fifty-seven percent of those who’ve been bullied don’t tell anyone about their experiences and 46 percent of young women self-harm or experience eating issues after being taunted or criticized online about their looks.
“I can’t imagine what it’s like for teenagers now,” Ora said in an interview following the launch at the Mondrian hotel in London. “You get into a black hole. It’s hard not to read every single comment. Nowadays in the entertainment industry with everyone whom we have lost this year over anxiety and bullying, you just don’t know what people are going through.”
She added that it was important that she and Delevingne made a show of friendship and unity against cyberbullying.
“Back in 2012, our friendship was so public that we were known as RaRa. The tabloids saw two girls who were basically inseparable because we were physically going through being in the limelight together and also witnessing cyberbullying. I’m really happy that I had a friend I could lean on and talk to about it.”
Delevingne said the campaign’s hashtag “I Will Not Be Deleted,” was apt. “The comments are the things that should be deleted, not the posts. No one should have to change who they are because of someone making a comment. The people who make the comments are the ones who have to change,” Delevingne said.