December 10, 2013

“If you mean libel,” Jo says, in Little Women, “I’d say so, and not talk about labels, as if Papa was a pickle bottle.”

This is the first thing that springs to mind when I spotted Pantene’s new Anti-Labels commercial.

Here it is:

Sheryl Sandberg loved it. She posted on her Facebook: “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. Really worth watching. Lean In prize of the day for sure!”

I didn’t know there was a Lean In prize of the day!

But — it’s a shampoo commercial.

This strikes me as mildly disingenuous, to say the least. “Women in the workforce face challenges unknown to their male colleagues. What a shame! Did you notice, while they were being incorrectly labeled, how fabulous their hair looked? Buy our product!”

Jane is “bossy”, but her mane is glossy! Buy Pantene! Make sure you look your best while they are judging your workplace performance by unreasonable standards!

Next we’ll see a really powerful depiction of the glass ceiling and it’ll turn out to be a Windex commercial. “Keeps all glass surfaces so shiny and polished, you won’t even know it’s there until you hit it with your head!”

I have the same problem with this that I did with the Chipotle: We Are Not Like Other Fast Food Places, In Some Ways, At Least commercial. You make a fair point, maybe, but, at the end of the day, what are you selling?

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.