Pantene Takes On The Hypocrisy Of Workplace Gender Stereotypes

The difference between persuasive and pushy, neat and vain, often comes down to man or woman. A shampoo brand weighs in.

The world of shampoo commercials is lately known more for its bro-tastic goofiness and mild innuendo than powerful social commentary but here Pantene combines its requisite shots of shiny hair with a statement about gender stereotypes. The brand's newest ad from BBDO Guerrero in the Philippines deftly juxtaposes similar workplace behaviors along gender lines to illustrate the hypocrisy within.

Why is an authoritative man the boss but a woman labeled "bossy"? A man is persuasive, where a woman is pushy. And so on. You might even call it the Lean In of shampoo ads.

It's another example of a personal grooming brand eschewing the performance breakdown of the product--shiny clean hair--to instead sell itself on image and emotion. Old Spice used humor, Pantene, perhaps taking a page from the Dove playbook, picked empowerment. Not to mention the best use of "Mad World" in a while.

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  • isaac

    It is quite interesting to read the comments below, I assume that this commercial that targets Philippines, was made taking into account some characteritics of their society. Probably the implications for a woman going into bussiness there are not the same for women in other palces, like USA. I'm guessing, I had never been to Philippines, anyway, I just wanted to point out that things an ideas (like ads) are not pertinent for everybody, nor all the time.

  • majestic whine

    I'd say manipulative would have been a better word than pushy. If it works at all it falls apart at the end IMO. Are woman with decent personal hygiene really considered vain? If they wear a nice dress do people really think they are 'showing off'?

    And Is that guy 'smooth'? I think its more likely that the crossing should have spelt the word 'douche'.

  • John

    Ridiculous….. Each and every label presented in that video could and is applied to both men and women, and not because they are one or the other. It 100% depends on how they conduct themselves in the workplace. Are there a select few men who would label women like that? Sure. Are there also a select few women who would label their bosses as assholes, showoffs, blowhards, etc.? Absolutely. I love the reverse side to sexism-- assuming all men stereotype like that is just as sexist as the men who do it.

  • wayne derrick

    I work in a creative business, maybe that makes it different, but there are plenty of successful women who are not perceived as pushy and bossy and a large number of insecure men who are. People like anyone who can get the job done without destroying everyone else in their path. I really think your view of the workplace is outdated.

  • wayne derrick

    it's also based on 55 years of knowing people in other lines of work and having a successful psychologists as a mother. She taught me a lot about how women twist the truth to get what they want more easily. Playing the victim is one of those things that works very successfully in countless areas of life for women. I just wish they'd develop and move on.

  • wayne derrick

    nonsense, there are just as many gender stereotypes against men, this is
    just an ad campaign designed to attract women who indulge in seeing themselves as part of a victim gender. The vast majority of women are far more powerful than this. The truth is that each sex has it's weaker members. There are weak males as much as weak females.

  • Pandy

    In the business world, there are a lot more negative stereotypes against women then there are men, which is what this is portraying. It's not about whether women are more or less powerful, it's about how they're seen by society and their peers. And yes, it's just like this. Any woman in management is seen as trying to act like a man and both pushy and bossy. It's very sad.