Katie Couric goes on assignment for Procter & Gamble skincare brand SK-II in "Timelines," a four-part web docu-series from Forsman & Bodenfors that explores women's evolving views on marriage and personal fulfillment.
Couric, the former network news anchor and Today show host, travels to New York, Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai. In each city, she interviews one young woman, along with a friend or family member (either a mother or grandmother), to gain insight and perspective.
"We're all supposed to hit certain milestones. A degree, marriage, a family," Couric explains in the anthem/trailer spot below. "In this series, I'll be meeting young women who are defining their own lives, while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."
Produced under SK-II's long-running #ChangeDestiny banner, and directed documentary-style by Radical Media's Mollie Mills, each episode culminates in an unusual visual representation of divergent "timelines" the young women might follow into the future. We see television monitors flickering along lighted paths. One line of screens indicates the life choices the young women wish to make, while the other maps out a journey more pleasing to their family and friends.
In the Seoul segment, Nara Kim, a bisexual artist and influencer, and her mom, Soon, face one path of TV sets that shimmer with words and phrases associated with the more traditional way of life in South Korea, while a separate line of screens blaze with Nara's aspirations about staging a solo exhibition, marrying whomever she pleases and embracing perpetual change:
Ultimately, Nara and Soon reach a deeper understanding, or at least seem open to a heartfelt discussion of what really matters. (If you're guessing some tears are shed, well d'uh.)
"To me, 'Timelines' was illustrative of the power of a brand embracing a controversial topic and and creating an environment where conversations could take place and cultural change could actually happen," says Couric. "None of these things happen overnight, but I think the fact that a short film can really move people to talk about things that are difficult to talk about inspired me a lot."
Check out the other installments below:
Sure, the TV sets feel a tad goofy—retro/tech in a weird, neon-lit '80s way. Still, they're memorable icons that give the series its own compelling style.
"We wanted to create environments that were captivating, and encouraged conversations between the women featured in the films," Susanna Fagring, CEO of Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore, tells Muse. "The TVs were a great visual element that transcended countries and languages."
Of course, cosmetics companies and packaged-good brands have leveraged highly personal and socially charged women's issues for years, with Dove's landmark "Real Beauty" serving as an oft-followed template. SK-II has become adept at this particular marketing style, and "Timelines" follows notable efforts such as its 2016 "Marriage Market Takeover" that spotlighted unwed "leftover women" in China, and last year's "Meet Me Halfway," about young women blazing their own trails.
For this latest foray, "as we talked to our consumers, a diverse group of young working women around the world, we realized there were bigger issues beyond skin and beauty that they were concerned about," says SK-II North America brand director Kaisy Mae O'Reilly. "Marriage pressure was one of the biggest issues they were struggling with."
Bottom line: The brand seeks to connect with its young female demographic by encouraging them to "embrace individuality and create their own destiny," says O'Reilly. "SK-II supports women around the globe in their journey to create their own timelines, no matter what their path may be."
Timelines | Katie Couric x SK-II
Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore
Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore
Art Director: Johanna Hofman-Bang
Copywriter: Kalle Åkestam
Client Director: Abbe Hale
Campaign Manager: Hongi Luo
Designer: Andrea Kellerman
Motion Graphics: Jason Feng
Production Company Name: Radical Media
Executive Producer: Jim Bouvet
Director: Mollie Mills
Line Producer: Josh Barwick
Production Supervisor: Steven Kostyo
Director Of Photography: Jordan Buck
Director Of Photography (Ny): Kelly Jeffrey
Set Designer: Laura Ochoa
Post Production Services: Outpost Digital
Executive Producer: Brendan Hermes
Producer: Greg Netter
Editor: Grace Mcintee
Editor: Lilli Rose Lyons
Editor: Emanuel Asamere
Assistant Editor: Dana Nyberg
Colorist: Josh Kanuck
Colorist: Yohance Brown
Colorist: Matthew Mascia
Colorist: Matthew Schwab
Producer: James Uminowicz
Associate Producer: Arniesha Williams
Post Production Coordinator: Whitney Yannacci
Lead Technical Engineer: Alexander Santoro
Machine Room Operator: Sante Ferrante
Junior Post Production Technician: Gino Volpe
Senior Producer: Michael D. Perlo
Associate Producer: Kendra Darrow
Music/ Sound Design:
Music Company: Leland Music
Composer: Edward Critchley