More and more brands discover the power of taking positions for a cause as strategic brand positioning statement. After Dove’s “Real Beauty Campaign” (watch the video here) and its Self-Esteem Fund, a CSR consequence of it, Vitoria’s Secret’s “Love My Body Campaign”, and HNS (Healthy is the New Skinny) that promotes “women with real curves”, it’s now P&G’s cosmetics brand PANTENE that launched a “Be Strong and Shine” campaign to raise awareness of wrong labels against women, particularly in Philippines:
When Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s new COO recently commented the video saying that “This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen illustrating how when women and men do the same things, they are seen in completely different ways” the campaign went viral reaching 47 million views on YouTube.
In December 2013 Forbes magazine picked up on the issue thus contributing to it gaining tremendous momentum. Yet, although the video is well done and really worth watching I am not so certain that the message and its execution does really any good to the cause of helping modern women gain the place in business they doubtlessly deserve.
I share the view of Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist that the campaign rather reinforces stereotypes and conflicts with its message and even the product. As a matter of fact, the women shown are (again) skinny, (perfectly) groomed, just as any men would a sexy women expect to be, and show attitudes that confirms what many male colleagues think and say about them behind their back.
In conclusion, while it is in general positive that brands push and use the issue of self-esteem of women in business and in life in general in order to create competitive edge and marketing platforms for their products, a more careful approach focusing rather on outstanding female qualities such as intuition and good judgment (to name only a few) would be preferable over messages that reiterate the female stereotypes, even if it’s done for a good cause. As is, the campaign, despite the fact that it does force us to reconsider what we think about women in business, fails to establish a lasting positive attitude. The reason for this weakness of the PANTENE campaign is clearly its execution, which is playing (once more) too much on conventional codes of judgment such as good looks, and sexy attitude.
Prof. Mark Schumacher,BSL professor for Consumer Behavior, Marketing and Branding