Who: Dove Hair, with Unilever Entertainment (a dedicated business unit specializing in what it describes as “audience-first” content) and Toronto content producer Shaftesbury.
What: The D Cut, a new six-part “mid-form” series (the first two episodes are seven and four minutes) that is broadly aimed at Gen Z, with a more specific focus on the LGBTQ2S+ community.
When & Where: The show debuts next week (June 26) on the Bell Media streaming service Crave before moving to Shaftesbury’s LGBTQ2S+ focused YouTube channel, KindaTV. It is being amplified by content creators (and stars of the show) and “community allies” across the country.
Why: Unilever wants to connect the Dove Hair brand with younger consumers through a strong message about inclusivity and diversity. Hair is regarded as an important form of self-expression and empowerment for LGBTQ2S+ youth, and gay-friendly hair salons are a safe space for the community.
Why the content approach: “Purposeful entertainment that’s rooted in pop-culture offers us a unique opportunity to convey our brand personality and values in a more meaningful way,” said Piyush Jain, global vice-president, Dove Hair. “In an increasingly fragmented media landscape where ads are often skipped or blocked, and Gen Z audiences are choosing ad-free platforms; it needs longer than 30 seconds to truly inspire and evoke emotion.”
How: Created by lawyer-turned-writer Wendy Litner and playwright Audrey Dwyer, the made-in-Toronto series is based on a true story about efforts to save an iconic gay hair salon in Montreal. Its storyline focuses on efforts to save a safe space that has been created for members of the LGBTQ2S+ community. Dove products will be “minimally visible” throughout the series, says Jain, although Dove will not be mentioned by name.
What are the challenges of an approach like this: “The challenge when creating premium branded entertainment is to always keep an ‘audience-first’ mindset and maintain it the whole way through,” says Jain. “The D Cut was inspired by a true story which mirrored so many of our values around inclusion and self-expression and we placed a lot of trust in the award-winning writers and producers at Shaftesbury to bring the series to life in the most credible and authentic way.”
What about the influencer component?: YouTube stars Elle Mills, Keara Graves and Alayna Joy, who have a combined 2.5 million subscribers, will be creating and sharing content that highlights their personal experience with hair expression and how they relate to the series. They will also urge their viewers to watch the show.
And we quote: “Dove Hair strives to make hair a positive experience of beauty, universally accessible to everyone. The D Cut champions inclusivity, widens the representation of diverse hair choices and debunks hair stereotypes. We want people to feel confident with themselves and their identities and developing a show such as The D Cut allowed us to bring diversity to the forefront and spark a conversation around self-expression as a source of pride.” — Piyush Jain, global vice-president, Dove Hair.