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in brief: new ad for pantene breaks down gender stereotypes


This ad for Pantene is awesome.

The hair care company’s Philippines branch has directly tackled the entrenched double standards still in play when it comes to successful men in direct comparison to successful women in the workplace, through the clever use of contorting and changing words which describe the person in question. For example, the man in charge has the word ‘Boss’ in large gold letters, appearing in the background; whereas the woman in the exact same situation sees the word ‘Bossy’. Similarly, we see a man at a lectern delivering a speech labelled as ‘persuasive’ with the woman being labelled ‘pushy’; a man working after-hours on his laptop surrounded by childrens’ toys as ‘dedicated’, with the woman as ‘selfish’. When taking care of their personal appearances in side-by-side mirrors, the words that appear side-by-side are ‘neat’ for the male and ‘vain’ for the female.

These are not new concepts when considering the dominant, stereotypical perceptions that clearly plague women and men in the workplace, and have done for years – as I mentioned earlier, these are not new concepts.

However, what is new is to see said concepts so well articulated and presented so neatly in a mainstream commercial for a large, multi-national and instantly recognisable company. It’s great to see that these double standards are portrayed to be a clear problem, which is still, unnecessarily, a plight to the welfare and to the success of women in the workplace. And it’s presented simply for viewers to be aware of the problem if they previously refused to acknowledge that a problem even existed. It does all of this in less than a minute of commercial airtime – it’s nothing less than a very successful campaign.

The advertisement then goes on to encourage the responder: ‘don’t let labels hold you back’ and to ‘be strong and shine’. This part of the advertisement is all very well and good, but it is troubling that these labels still exist at all in the business world of 2013 as recognisable, relatable and out-dated, yet still a frequent occurrence.

It’s a great marketing campaign in that it has garnered attention for its direct confrontation of a very real issue, as well as its ready applicability to their products (particularly in the bathroom scene; but also notice how each of the actors have perfectly flawless and shiny hair.) While it is somewhat troubling to see these pervasive gender stereotypes perpetuated in their relevance, if it brings attention and conversation to the issue of women in the workplace being treated unfairly within the ranks as well as by the media, then it will be even more of a success than an Internet Youtube hit. Hopefully this may amend for this ‘Mad World’ (choice of music = very apt indeed) in which we unbelievably still live.

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One thought on “in brief: new ad for pantene breaks down gender stereotypes

  1. Pingback: Feminist News Round-Up: 14.12.13 | lip magazine

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