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Pantene’s Branding Strategy Behind its ‘Not Sorry’ Commercial

Last week, Procter & Gamble’s hair care brand Pantene launched a new video that points out a difference between how women and men perceive themselves.  The commercial depicts women saying “sorry” in various situations that really don’t needed an apology.

The viral video, which has already had more than two million views on YouTube, encourages women to stop asking for forgiveness in their everyday lives. Pantene wants them to be confident and to “shine strong”.

The interesting part about this campaign is that Pantene does not show its hair care products at any time. Some critics have highlighted he fact that a good commercial should showcase the brand’s product in order to be effective, however I do not agree with this view.

Pantene chose not to feature its product on purpose, in order to act on a subliminal level. There is no mention of hair care products but it is difficult not to notice that all the women in the video have beautiful, healthy hair – just as you’d expect in a shampoo commercial.

However, with this ad, Pantene chose to act beyond the product’s benefits- this campaign is indeed pure branding. The global message that Pantene is trying to communicate is that with Pantene, women will “Shine Strong”. The ad is leveraging brand cues around the words “shine strong” which can refer to both the product characteristics (Pantene will make your hair shiny and strong) and the brand values (women should shine and be strong in their everyday life): brilliant!

“We don’t want to say, ‘Use this in your hair: it will help you overcome barriers’, because that’s not true, “ Cheri McMaster, a communications Manager at P&G told ABC News. “It’s a lot more subtle. We know as a brand, and as women, that when your hair looks amazing you do walk a little taller, you have more confidence. But when you say it aloud and you put it in a piece of copy, it sounds ridiculous”.

Moreover, the commercial was designed to create conversation with customers, and it seemed to work! Women have been quick to share the video on social media. With more than 2 million views on YouTube, the campaign is generating important word of mouth; consumers talk to their friends about the latest Pantene video, they mention the name of the brand out loud and unconsciously, all the positive ideas reflected in the ad are associated with the brand.

Finally, as much as I believe this campaign is interesting and valuable in terms of the brand’s perspective, it is reminiscent of competitor Dove’s “Real Beauty Campaign”.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Dove Real Beauty Patch (See our article about this campaign here)

First, they both feature quiet music, several women of various ages and cultures, and confidence-lacking moments. Then, they both show a second part that shows the same women with a different mindset, and therefore happier and more confident. This could unfortunately create confusion for consumers as Pantene has chosen an almost identical brand positioning to Dove’s.

References: The Week, ABC News, Adweek

Picture: Screenshot from the video

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