This article was originally posted on http://byuwsr.blogspot.com/2014/01/labels-and-logos.html.
Pantene, a leading shampoo company, recently published the video “Labels Against Women” with the tag line “don’t let labels hold you back.” Alexandra Le Tellier of Los Angeles Times explains how the “ad that juxtaposes the labels ascribed to men versus women in similar situations. He’s the boss, but she’s bossy. He’s persuasive, while she’s pushy. When dad works late, it’s because he’s dedicated, but when mom does, she’s selfish.” The last line in the video reads, “Be strong and shine.” But the closing image shows the logo for Pantene.
Some critics complained that this video was just to sell product. Jessica Roy, writer of Time magazine, argues, “While on the surface videos like Pantene’s ‘Labels Against Women’ show beauty brands bucking traditional standards by embracing body positivity instead of ignoring it, it’s still important to recognize these videos for what they truly are: a clever way for the same old companies to make money off of women.” As Tori Telfer of Bustle website states, “The business behind this sort of feel-good, shareable, vaguely morally superior ad campaign doesn’t care about you as a woman. It cares about your Facebook shares. It cares about your shampoo-brand loyalty. And above all, it cares — truly, madly, deeply — about your wallet.”
Although what critics said concerning commercialization is undoubtedly true, what did other people think about this commercial?
Some responses are simply shocking.
For example, Dan Daman claimed on 27 December 2013, “Quit acting like a man and act like a woman.”
The user Dan Daman appears to desire a 1950s stereotypical woman of the home, silent and smiling.
John Doe wrote on 28 December 2013, “Western women, white women, disgust me. I only like Asian women because they still act like a real woman.”
This user appears to show racial prejudice against women who are not of Asian decent.
The user saltysnail03 wrote, “[G]ays r much worst the vile pervs scum of earth they r.”
There is some ambiguity in this comment. Gays are worst than what? Gays are worst than strong women? Gays are worst than men who label women?
On 31 December 2013, зло кубиківльоду wrote, “Sexism is more prevalent when it is against men. Women actually label men WAY more then the contrary. Women think men are always judging, but in truth we don’t really care, I wish the lying feminist nazis would just stop, but seeing as feminism owns everything, there isnt really much anyone seeking the truth can do.”
This user believes in feminist Nazis and reverse sexism.
What is so strong in this commercial is that no men or women are speaking. Words, such as “boss” vs. “bossy,” appear as words in the world around them. The viewer only sees the words appear and rearrange into new words. This commercial is suggesting a change in perception, in paradigm for all viewers.
Despite the negative comments listed above, the ad seemed to impact other viewers positively. Sadhana Kalyanaraman wrote on 3 January 2014, “[L]ove the add, love the song. Love the message…” Priyanka Shailendra explained on 2 January 2014, “This ad describes the strength in a woman who can shine and make the world shine….. her hair is just part of her…. Every part of her shines out in this ad…. The basic concept is what they are explaining…. We need to open our eyes beyond just a hair ad.”
So yes – this is an ad selling hair shampoo. But if the viewer looks a little closer, there might be something a little more there.