Ad of the Day: In Sequel to Viral Smash, Pantene Urges Women to Stop Apologizing

Brand continues to challenge gender norms

As a woman who has been called out for apologizing too much, watching Pantene's "Not Sorry" video made me cringe. It hit too close to home, and that's the beauty of it.

From Grey in New York, the spot poses the question, "Why are women always apologizing?" Vignettes of women who say "sorry" before making their points follow it.

By framing the ad this way, you're in a critical mind-set when the first woman cuts her own argument down, saying, "Sorry, can I ask a stupid question?" It's hard to watch the subsequent women do the same thing. I wanted to shout, STOP IT.

The ad then doubles back, showing the same women, but now they have the conviction and confidence to say what they mean without apologizing beforehand and their point is taken more seriously.

The hair care brand is holding up a mirror to women with the Shine Strong campaign and showing how being authoritative isn't a bad thing. It's a powerful message and makes sense as a follow-up to last year's "Labels Against Women." That spot, from the Philippines, showed how identical behavior by men and women earns them different labels in the workplace. It has been watched more than 46 million times on YouTube.

"We've struck a chord in terms of changing gender norms for women," Kevin Crociata, marketing director of Procter & Gamble's North American hair care business, said of the "Not Sorry" spot. "We used market research to look at what gender norms were holding women back and tried to tap into the most relevant and insightful areas. This problem of saying sorry, it wasn't just something women in the U.S. were facing but globally. After the success of the first campaign, 'Shine Strong' is something we're committed to as a brand." 

As you'll see in the spot below, though, the message undercuts itself a bit with some of the women saying, "Sorry not sorry." That's a hashtag and a song by Glee's Naya Rivera. It doesn't really work for the context of the ad; one of the women saying she's not sorry is hogging the covers. I'm not sorry to say that she should be sorry!

Pantene is putting its money where its mouth is: The brand is also launching the Shine Strong Fund, which seeks to educate and enable women to overcome bias and societal expectations as well as celebrate strong women. The fund is collaborating with the American Association of University Women, underwriting monetary grants and helping college women have access to influential leaders.


Client: Pantene, Procter & Gamble

Agency: Grey, New York

Chief Creative Officer: Tor Myren

Global Group Creative Director: Joanna Carver

Creative Director: Tanner Shea

Director, Broadcast Production: Bennett McCarroll

Executive Producer: Judi Nierman

Producer: Jimmy Wade

Music Producer: Ben Dorenfeld

Account Team: Yashaswini Samat, Danielle Avedon, Angelica Mata

Production Company: Community Films

Director: Pam Thomas

Executive Producers: Carl Swan, Lizzie Schwartz

Line Producer: Elena Halvorson

Director of Photography: Jim Frohna

Editing Company: Consulate

Editor: Holle Singer

Assistant Editor: Stephanie West

Post Executive Producer: Alan Lopez

Music: Q Department

Mix Company: Audio Engine

Mixer: Eric Hoffman

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