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Your Shot: Pantene #WhipIt


Pantene Philippines & BBDO Guerrero dissect sexist stereotypes and explain the hair ad that went viral

Your Shot: Pantene #WhipIt

No matter where you are, there's a good chance that you've already seen this spot for Pantene Philippines. Facebook COO and author of 'Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead', Sheryl Sandberg, recently picked up on it and it has since spiralled through the globe via social media. Created by BBDO Guerrero, the 60-second film highlights how men and women are often seen differently when, in fact, are making identical actions. LBB's Laura Swinton spoke with the brand and agency about how they ended with an idea that's managed to resonate with so many on such a global scale.


LBB> What was the original brief from Pantene?

PP> We challenged the BBDO Guerrero team to make Pantene connect with consumers through our greater brand purpose of helping women and making their world shine. We made sure we were guided by core beliefs that were always true to the brand and that made us distinctive versus others in the market.

LBB> The insight is one that will resonate with many women - what sort of research did you do to reach this insight?

BBDO> The insight sprung from a truth that the women in the team could relate to. Pantene gave us such a great brief. It was about the brand being committed to helping women shine boldly because success takes work. We came up with several big ideas. One of them was rooted in something truthful: there are things that hold women back. This was what Whip It was all about. And Pantene saw its potential. We did our own study and saw it was not just something we invented - it was really happening.

LBB> At what point in the process did you arrive at the idea of looking at these double-standards and the way gendered labels affect women? 

PP> We all agreed that the social tension would be about how society hasn't fully accepted women who choose to shine boldly. Women with ambition and those who dare to go after ‘it’ tend to be seen as 'too' confident and 'too' outspoken compared to men in the same place. What we found is that these double standards were holding women back from being the best they could be.

BBDO> When we decided on the purpose of our movement, we all agreed we needed to refine the tension Whip It would tackle. As we progressed, the idea became sharper. One day we wrote a set of words like ‘bossy and ‘vain’, and defined them like dictionary entries. But they describe a woman doing normal things, such as taking charge or caring about how she looks. 

We said, "What if we show a man and a woman doing exactly the same thing but being labelled differently?" Pantene saw the strength of this angle. But we also wanted to make sure this was based on reality. Hence, the collaboration with Rappler in carrying out a Philippines-based study for Whip It. The results of this backed up our intuition by showing, among other things, that 70 per cent of men believe women need to downplay their personality in order to be accepted in the workplace.

LBB> In terms of the specific labels and situations featured in the ad, how did you go about deciding which to use?

PP> It was a very collaborative process with the agency that involved a painstaking search for perfection. We were all committed to making sure that what we chose were what everyday men and women might say and that it was as natural as possible.

BBDO> We had 17 pairs of words in very specific situations in the beginning. We trimmed the list down to what strong women in the workplace face everyday – what female bosses, professionals, mothers with careers go through. It wasn't easy making the final choice because there are so many labels out there. In the end, we had to go with what was the most truthful and relevant, given the limited time for the film. 

LBB> As mentioned earlier, the insight is one which will resonate with many women all over the world - the social media buzz that I've seen is testament to that! - but I was wondering if there was a particularly local or regional cultural element to the campaign? 

PP> A lot has been said about how the Philippines ranks very highly in economic measures of gender equality. But the reality I know is that there are way too many double standards in this society. Some seem a bit more local to me, like how men are the ones expected to ask women out and it's generally frowned upon for women to make the first move. But many are shared globally - which is what we featured in the video and what people all around the world are responding too! What I can say is that some of these labels hit very close to home among the women in my life that I love. I was very fortunate to grow up around two very strong sisters and an amazing supermom. 

BBDO> There isn't a shortage of strong women in the country in management positions. But what's interesting is that like women in other countries, they're often unfairly labelled.

LBB> It's an interesting and powerful approach for a brand like Pantene - rather than conjure up an imaginary, perfect, well-groomed, go-getting career woman it examines a very real phenomenon and deals with frustrations and inner conflicts that will be recognisable to many. How do you feel the campaign evolves things for the brand? 

PP> We're definitely committed to making an impact and promoting real change with #WhipIt. This is only the beginning!

BBDO> We are lucky that all of us in the team - Pantene and BBDO - are on the same page when it comes to supporting strong women. We are all committed to this goal. For the brand, it's about having a proactive role in women's lives and communicating with a higher purpose in mind.

LBB> Who produced and directed the spot? Where was it shot?

BBDO> The spot was produced by Filmex and directed by Simon Cracknell. It was shot on location in Fort Bonifacio and in the studio. 

LBB> The response to the campaign has been phenomenal - why do you think it has penetrated the way it has? And I was also wondering what sort of feedback/response you've had from the local market/media? What are women in the Philippines saying about it?

PP> We think the material is resonating with so many people because it genuinely resonated with the team who worked on it. We were a diverse team of women and men who really believed in the idea. In the earlier stages of creative development, it hit me that we had something real when I felt a strong pang of guilt. I considered myself someone who lived and promoted gender equality but I was still given to saying potentially hurtful phrases like 'you're such a girl' (I've kept my vow never to say that since). We're extremely happy with how Filipinas have embraced #WhipIt. There was a great variety of positive responses shared online but the most common and most important is how women felt like they've never been understood so well before and how much more inspired they are to be the woman they truly want to be. I was floored to see viewers playing back the message in their tweets word for word: "Don't let labels hold you back. Be strong and shine."

BBDO> We believe that a lot of people default to gender stereotypes without stopping to think if they make any sense. By highlighting this we seem to have set off a conversation on the subject. And we hope that in the future, people will start thinking twice before labelling women unfairly.  

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BBDO Asia, Wed, 18 Dec 2013 17:35:02 GMT