Pantene is sorry, they aren’t sorry.
Stepping forward with a sequel to last year’s “Shine Strong” campaign, the product line recently produced another attention-grabbing advertisement that leaves its target audience in a standing ovation.
In case you haven’t seen it, Pantene’s new commercial features a variety of women in multiple scenarios constantly apologizing for situations that should otherwise be void of a “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry, this is a stupid question..” a woman says to a group of male co-workers, and a whispered “sorry” as a woman hands a baby to a man as she cooks dinner, are just a few of the scenes shown in Pantene’s ad. It seems as though the commercial hits home for many women who want detachment from the needy and nagging stereotype often bestowed upon them.
However, Pantene’s marketing research team suggests this apologetic behavior actually has a reverse effect. Instead of allowing women to follow through with their desired intentions, they are subtly portrayed as weak and unfit for the task by asking forgiveness where it is unneeded.
“We used marketing research to look at what gender norms were holding women back and tried to tap into the most relevant and insightful area. This problem of saying sorry wasn’t just something women in the U.S. were facing, but globally,” Kevin Crociata, marketing director of Procter and Gamble North America, told AdWeek. “After the success of the first campaign ‘Shine Strong’ is something we’re committed to as a brand.”
Pantene’s “Shine Strong” campaign has been in progress since it launched at the end of 2013 with a commercial out of Pantene Philippines “Labels Against Women.” It was also the beginning of the Pantene Shine Strong Fund, the goal being to enable and educate women to overcome bias, in collaboration with the American Association of University Women, underwriting monetary grants and allowing access to influential leaders.
“Pantene’s commitment to raising awareness about unconscious bias and stereotypes is a perfect link with AAUW’s core mission,” said AAUW Executive Director and CEO Linda Hallman, CAE told MarketWatch. “We look forward to further exploring these important topics and seeing how our student members bring the conversations to life within campuses and communities across the country.”
While the ad received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback, there were, of course, some opposing views. Some viewers commented online that the commercial loses sight of goal, which is to sell hair products. Many of those commenting argued the campaign itself is sexist, claiming men do the same but aren’t targeted for the ad, and a few disagreed with Pantene stating there is nothing wrong with saying you’re sorry to be polite.
So what do you think of Pantene’s new advertising approach? Will this be breaking grounds for the brand’s image, or just another beauty line pushing women’s stigma barriers to generate sales?
For the time being, Pantene’s “Shine Strong” campaign will (at the least) promote a healthy self-image for the women it targets. It seems that companies are constantly making strides to blend the gender, race and sexuality boundaries more each day within their own form of advertising. Through research lead strategy, marketers appear determined to focus on the confidence and happiness of their consumers.
Sorry, we have to agree.