For the past several years, the luxury skin care brand SK-II has taken a groundbreaking stand by tackling women’s issues in China through film campaigns. In 2016, its award-winning “Marriage Market Takeover” looked at the cultural prejudice attached to “leftover women,” a pejorative term for those are not married by the age of 27. The following year, the P&G-owned brand followed up with “Expiry Date,” showing women labeled with tattoos that became more visible as they aged, and for Chinese New Year 2019 SK-II revisited the subject with “Meet Me Halfway,” which brought women and their families to meet in the middle, both literally and figuratively.
SK-II’s recent global campaign, “Timelines” (人生轴线), is a global docu-series with American television journalist Katie Couric taking a broader view of marriage pressure and social expectations across cultures. The series sees Couric interviewing women in China, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S., with the ultimate goal of inspiring women to “draw their own timelines — regardless of societal pressures — no matter what their path may be,” according to SK-II.
The China-focused episode of the series takes a poignant look at the divergent paths of two childhood friends: actress and SK-II ambassador Chun Xia (also known as Jessie Li) and Dan Hua, who is more traditional and conservative. The film initially alternates between their two perspectives, shifting from interview clips with Couric — who poses questions about career, relationships and timeline — and cinematic shots of each woman making her way through various locations in Shanghai.
The second part of the film offers a twist on the concept of the timeline, with two separate versions of Chun Xia’s possible future offered on a series of television monitors, displayed in a cavernous space as if part of a contemporary art exhibit. One set of monitors is placed in a straight line, showing Dan Hua’s hopes for her friend: “stable life, stable family, stable job.” The other grouping of televisions zig-zags across the floor, reflecting Chun Xia’s differing objectives, such as self-improvement and freedom of choice. The contrast highlights how differing societal expectations are not simply a product of generational gaps, but rather part of individual life choices that should be respected.
The campaign was created by Forsman & Bodenfors, which also developed “Marriage Market Takeover,” “Expiry Date” and “Meet Me Halfway.” On Weibo, the video has been viewed more than 2.5 million times, inspiring discussion of the topic and sharing of personal stories and experiences.