Pantene. Empoweringly Shiny.

by sketchyfeminist

My dad sent me this link:

Pantene Takes on the Hypocrisy of Workplace Gender Stereotypes

And I had to share it with you!

What this link leads to is a video of a Pantene commercial, as well as a short Fast Company article about said commercial. The Pantene commercial, for some reason, is all about gender disparity in the workplace, and how people often have negative or judgmental reactions to women doing stuff in the workplace, while having positive-to-neutral reactions to men doing more-or-less the exact same stuff.

Which, based on a lot of modern recountings of reactions-to-women-in-the-workplace, seems to be about how it goes for a lot of people.

So, on the one hand, the Pantene commentary looks to be surprisingly accurate. And even manages to be somewhat moving, if in a manipulative kind of way.

On the other hand, this is a commercial for Pantene. Which is a brand name.

And the message of the commercial is not to judge people (or maybe not to allow yourself to be judged?) based on cultural prejudices and preconceptions surrounding gender. Let’s all take a moment to marvel at the unintentional (at least I really hope it’s unintentional) underlying irony here.

Brand name = no prejudging.

Error. Does not compute.

And it doesn’t stop there. One of the (empowering?) lines of text in the ad even says, “Don’t let labels hold you back.”

Psst. I hate to break it to you, but a brand name? Is a label. That’s why manufacturers put it on labels that are then used to label products.

And then there’s the message at the end of the commercial, but before the #whipit hashtag. That message is, “Be strong and shine.”

“Be strong and shine.” From Pantene Pro-V, the brand with the tagline, “Hair so healthy it shines.”

So, how are we, as women, going to be fighting back against sexism and gender essentialism in the workplace?

Apparently, with our shiny, shiny hair.

I am of mixed feelings about this ad. (Or perhaps I should say this “integrated advertising campaign.”) Sure, it’s manipulative and patronizing. And ultimately designed with the aim of selling more hair products in mind.

At the same time, it may actually generate some decent and much-needed discussion. At the very least, it’s sure to generate a few college essays.