Pantene Ad Tackles Sexism in Workplace

In the Philippines, Pantene launched a marketing campaign focused on the message that women are perceived differently from men in the workplace, even when both are exhibiting identical behavior. The ad goes through several scenes in which a man and woman are placed in similar business situations. In each scene, the word highlighted changes from a positive term for the man’s behavior to a negative term for the woman’s. For example, when a man is taking charge of his employees, the word ‘boss’ appears on the building behind him. When he is replaced by a woman, the word reads ‘bossy.’ In another scene, a man is shown working late into the night. Though not at home with his family, he is described as dedicated. A woman following the same pattern is said to be selfish.

While there is no appearance of a Pantene hair product in the ad, each businesswoman in the changing scenes has beautiful, glossy hair. The final message tells women to “shine” despite the negative labels. It’s a moving message, and a bold decision for the company to move the focus from the results of products themselves to issues that their primary customers need to face.

The “marketing message in a shampoo bottle” campaign seems to be paying off. Social networks have been abuzz, with the ad spot sparking much conversation. Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer (CEO) of Facebook, encouraged her nearly 1.25 million followers to go watch the video.

When all is said and done, caring means more selling. This ad pointed out blatant sexism in the Filipino business world, but it also got a lot of women thinking about Pantene as a company that wants more for them than just nice hair. Who would you rather buy your hair products from: A company focused solely on selling products or one that wants a better world for you?