Why This Shampoo Ad Has People Talking About Workplace Equality
BY Abigail Tracy
A Pantene commercial has become the center of a serious conversation about workplace equality.
Why is Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In fame suddenly talking about a shampoo commercial?
The ad, part of a new Pantene marketing campaign, is sparking serious conversation about workplace equality.
The company's #WhipIt initiative focuses on how men and women are portrayed differently for the same behaviors in the workplace.
As Mad World’s "Tears for Fears" somberly plays in the background, one commercial shows scenes of men and women doing the same things but assigns them different labels. The video opens on a man in his office with the word "Boss" floating in the background, followed by a woman in the same setting, only she is "bossy." A man at a podium is "persuasive," a woman, "pushy." A man alone in a dark office is "dedicated," while a woman is "selfish." The ad concludes with the kicker and campaign tagline, "Don’t let labels hold you back. Be strong and shine."
Sandberg praised the video advertisement in a post on the social media site. "This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen illustrating how when women and men do the same things, they are seen in completely different ways," she wrote. "Really worth watching. Lean In prize of the day for sure!"
Just over a minute long, the video is free of any shampoo bottles or hair products, and although shiny hair has a handful of cameos, it is clear Pantene is hoping to reach its consumers on a different, more emotional level than it would with a conventional ad.
The campaign, which is part of Pantene's Philippines campaign and launched at the end of November, extends beyond a few commercial spots. The Pantene Philippines' Facebook page is rife with posts that promote female empowerment, such as, "Don't hold yourself back. Break the glass ceiling. Be strong and shine," and "Labels can continue to exist...but a woman can choose to redefine them." Pantene, in conjunction with the news site Rappler, has even hosted events as part of the #WhipIt campaign, including a forum where six women shared their experiences overcoming gender discrimination in the workplace. Rappler also will host ongoing discussions on Wednesdays about gender inequality.