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Lancôme mobilizes ambassadors, friends to rewrite women’s futures

March 2, 2018

Julia Roberts is one of the ambassadors involved in #WriteHerFuture. Image courtesy of Lancôme


Beauty marketer Lancôme is tackling the global issue of female illiteracy through an awareness campaign and educational programs.

Over the next five years, Lancôme’s #WriteHerFuture initiative is pledging 2 million euros, or about $2.5 million at current exchange, to the cause. About 76 million women around the globe are unable to read or write, skills that Lancôme sees as important to find a voice and a means of self expression.

"Today, 76 million young women lack basic reading and writing skills,” said Françoise Lehmann, president of Lancôme International, in a statement. “Often hidden, this handicap causes young women to face exclusion and dependence, with serious consequences for themselves, their families and their close ones.

“This is why Lancôme has committed to fight against young women's illiteracy and give a voice to this invisible reality,” he said. “A natural affinity for Lancôme, whose mission, since the very beginning, has always been to help women in their quest for self-fulfillment and expression of what makes them unique.

“Write Her Future, Lancôme's very first global philanthropic program, is a civic and long-term commitment, which aims at raising awareness, implementing concrete actions in the field and initiating a movement in favor of women."

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In the last two decades, the number of illiterate women has remained constant. Lancôme is looking to move the needle through a combination of awareness and action.

One of the main causes of illiteracy is females who drop out of school, stalling their learning and putting them at a disadvantage. Often these women take on adult responsibilities such as raising children at an early age.

Children born to literate mothers are more apt to survive past the age of five.

Being able to communicate and understand the written word provides access to more information. For instance, reading is needed to tell what is in a pill bottle or achieve more financial independence.

Lancôme is working with the non-governmental organization CARE to provide programs to women around the world. The partners have already begun a literacy initiative in Morocco, with plans to launch additional programs in Guatemala and Thailand.

Building support and awareness for the effort, Lancôme tapped its ambassadors including Julia Roberts, Lupita Nyong’o and Isabella Rossellini to write their names on social media for the cause.

The spokesmodels appear in posts posing with their signature, writing their own name as a pledge. In addition to its ambassadors, Lancôme also recruited its friends such as photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott and makeup artist Lisa Eldridge to get the word out.

Consumers are also invited to write their own name to join the campaign.

"Literacy is one of the most defining human skills,” Ms. Roberts said in a statement. “We read and write—that's how we communicate, how we share, how we express our feelings and how we learn to understand the world.

“To not have that accessible to everyone everywhere is really a crime,” she said. “It's so great for Lancôme to be involved and get serious about supporting young girls in the world through the work of Write Her Future."

While this is Lancôme's first global cause campaign, the brand has previously looked to its social audience to promote initaitives.

Lancôme asked consumers to show their hearts for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in a user-generated content campaign.

The brand prompted its followers to share images of themselves making a heart out of their hands to Twitter or Instagram, with each photo tagged #LancomeGivesBack sending $1 to the pediatric healthcare provider. Simple fundraising efforts that have low barriers of entry for consumers can help brands make a larger impact through widespread participation (see story).