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That’s the question Pantene asks in its new “Not Sorry” ad. The video is a follow-up to their “Labels Against Women” ad from last year, which showed how men and women are often labeled differently for identical behavior. When men are perceived as persuasive, women are perceived as pushy. The spot, which was part of Pantene’s Shine Strong campaign, has garnered more than 46 million views on YouTube since November 2013. Here’s Pantene’s newest ad, which is also part of the Shine Strong campaign.

I cringed a little as I watched each woman say she was sorry for things that did not warrant an apology at all. I cringed at them undermining their own thoughts, ideas, and actions. Most of all, I cringed because I saw myself. Why do we say we are sorry for things we should not be sorry for? Why do we consider that being polite?

I think part of what makes this ad work is that it raises an issue with which women can identify. Every one of the situations presented in the ad situations that I have witnessed and  / or participated in, and I’m sure that’s true for many other women. To me, the video is a bit reminiscent of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty in that it seeks to make an emotional connection with the viewer. Notice how there’s not a single shampoo bottle in sight. The ad is not about selling hair care products (although everyone’s hair is pretty fabulous).  It’s more about showing that Pantene as a brand is connected to its audience. Here, that brand is doing more than selling stronger hair; they are empowering their audience to be stronger human beings. 

My only qualm comes at the end, when the women say “sorry not sorry.” Is that not still apologizing? Personally, I feel that sort of juvenile commentary detracts from the positive-yet-polite message. Continuing the confident, unapologetic reactions the first few women had would have made for a more cohesive spot. Not sorry. 

~ Kim Schult, Account Coordinator, The S3 Agency


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