Pantene: “Labels Against Women”

This Pilipino commercial examines the double standards that women face in the workplace compared to men, but at the same time seems to reinforce these labels about women. While a man may be the ‘boss,’ ‘persuasive,’ ‘dedicated,’ ‘neat,’ and ‘smooth,’ a woman is considered ‘bossy,’ ‘pushy,’ ‘selfish,’ ‘vein,’ and ‘showy.’ These words are both reminding us and reinforcing these ideas back upon women, even though the commercial is trying to stand against these labels. According to this ad, these women can overcome the double-standard by being able to “shine.” But, all the women in this ad are beautiful, physically fit, and have perfect hair, so Pantene is also suggesting that these traits also factor into a person’s (woman’s) success.

The inclusion of the song “Mad World,” also sung by a female, emphasizes the ‘madness’ of the double-standard women face in the workplace. Even though this commercial originally aired in the Philippines in November 2013, it quickly went viral after Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shared the video on her page and commenting that it “is one of the most powerful videos [she] has ever seen…”  link

While some people may think that gender inequality has been fixed, it still is evident in todays society. Today, finding women in the work place is more common, but it is still predominately men. Even though the commercial is seemingly supporting the idea that women can over come the pressure and hardships in the workplace by being strong, like the Dove Beauty Sketches link, the idea remains that physical looks are very important and determine how successful you are and how you think of yourself. Now, as we all know, Pantene sells hair products. So what does this double-standard-workplace-commercial have to do with hair? The idea is that if you use Pantene, you too can “Be strong and shine.”


5 thoughts on “Pantene: “Labels Against Women””

  1. I think this was a really good yet tough example to consider. While the commercial is seemingly trying to fight stereotypes, by even acknowledging them, it could be working to reinforce them. I actually wrote about a similar topic and came to a similar conclusion in my blog. I also like how you mentioned the song-choice because I would not have picked up on that.

  2. This was a really interesting ad. I feel it definitely produced the message really well. I agree with the earlier comment, it seems like a tough ad to consider and I didn’t notice the music at all. Unfortunately, the ad still gives the “looks are everything” vibe by showing all these beautiful people, but at least it produces a clear message.

  3. I think that the strength in this commercial is its ability to accurately show the double standard that women face. I was reminded of the Fotoshop by Adobé video we watched in class because like this video is portrayed the issue so well. While this is important and can be good if people understand that it is an issue, sometimes these videos reinforce the stereotypes.

  4. I wrote about a similar topic and feel that though they’re trying to combat women’s stereotypes, it truly is just highlighting them. Pantene is in the beauty product market, so they are obviously going to focus on how women look. Even though they do showcase women in the workplace, they also put a heavy emphasis on their product (the beautiful woman).

  5. I think this was a really interesting post. I think you nailed it when you said that the words describing men are positive while the words used for women had a more negative connotation. In a Pantene commercial, you would think it would be the opposite way around. All of their commercials include above the standard beautiful women with perfect hair, so I agree with your statement.

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