MANILA, Philippines – Can an ad made in the Philippines have global impact? Yes, it can!
On November 10, Pantene Philippines aired its latest commercial on local television challenging the double standards women face at work. That was the first peak of engagement using #WHIPIT on social media.
What pushed it viral globally was Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, the author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, who herself was caught in a fierce debate in the US this year with Anne-Marie Slaughter, a Princeton professor who recently left the State Department, about whether women can really have it all.
The ad was created by BBDO Guerrero in the Philippines. Now P&G says it will take the campaign global, reversing what normally happens in most campaigns. Its agency in the US (and other international locations) is Grey Worldwide, “which will now see creative from another team appear on its turf.”
Sandberg’s Facebook post helped push the video viral (now at more than 8.6 million views on YouTube) and helped #WHIPIT trend on Twitter for several days with largely positive responses from different parts of the world.
Awesome @Pantene commercial deals with gender equality and Labels Against Women @PantenePH: http://t.co/eM5E8xXcFK #whipit #BeStrongAndShine— Celeste Thorson (@CelesteThorson) December 11, 2013
Watch the Pantene #video EVERYONE’s talking about http://t.co/0H4VXvpMQW #WhipIt— ELLEUK (@ELLEUK) December 11, 2013
“Don’t let labels hold you back”– @panteneph commercial by @BBDOGuerrero http://t.co/766thC8tAh v @HuffingtonPost #WhipIt— UN Women (@UN_Women) December 10, 2013
Its time workplace inequality became taboo! http://t.co/vQnPLJ3sS3 Labels Against Women is something we all face Lets #WhipIt @Pantene_India— Parineeti Chopra (@ParineetiChopra) December 17, 2013
Charting the viral spread
How did it happen?
Pantene Philippines quietly uploaded the commercial on its YouTube page on November 9. A day later, it aired on local television.
On November 26, Rappler, an online partner, organized a forum of powerful women who beat the odds – and talked about it – advising and encouraging other women to tackle gender bias. Rappler also unveiled the results of a commissioned survey on Filipino society’s attitudes towards women at the workplace, at play and in politics, among other issues. That online engagement on November 26 was far larger than television’s virtual reach on November 10.
It was the opening salvo of a weekly series called “Whip It Wednesdays” – stories and conversations about women who challenge the status quo.
The November 26 forum and virtual chat pushed #WHIPIT to #1 in the Philippines and #3 globally on Twitter.
Sandberg’s post alerted other high-profile news and social media sites to pick up the ad. When she posted the link on her FB page last December 7, she congratulated the ad makers and gave her mark of approval she calls the “Lean In” prize of the day (after her nonprofit’s name which encourages women’s participation in society, specifically the workplace).
From there, the campaign exploded. Other social media watchers followed suit. Huffington Post UK also wrote about it on December 9. Even Time’s Business and Money site featured it on December 10.
Business Insider‘s piece, also posted on December 10, mentioned Rappler’s weekly articles and conversations which aim to turn debate into action. Their last mention of the campaign also reported that the ad might be shown in the US soon.
Of labeling and branding
Before this, Forbes released an article about the ad on December 6. The famous feminist blog Jezebel also featured the ad on the same date as Forbes. The pop culture social media site Buzzfeed featured it on December 4, with repost of photos and links to the Rappler forum.
A short criticism of the ad was posted on December 10 at the Washington Post, referring to the fact that regardless of how the ad criticized gender double standards, it was still selling a beauty product.
Granted that the ad is made by a company that sells shampoo, this kind of advertising-with-a-social-cause is not really new. What’s new is that it started in the Philippines and reverberated globally.
Previous beauty products and brands have done their part in reaching out to specific sectors and populations to “talk to them” about their issues and concerns. Be it beauty, self-image, social participation or self-emancipation, companies have long realized that it’s more effective to communicate with their target audience in this manner. Rather than talking down to them, companies now prefer conversations.
Of careful whispers and careless comments
It’s ironic that people don’t usually address conversations that should be cross-cutting meaningful to everyone. Women who are courageous enough to discuss feminist tenets in their daily lives are deemed as a grim-and-determined lot.
But what’s so grim about saying that you believe women and men should have the same economic opportunities? What’s wrong with women being determined to break down existing stereotypes thrown at them decade after decade?
This is why the labels ad resonated among many who have seen it. It’s obvious in the way readers commented on the Jezebel post. Following the comments thread in the Buzzfeed and YouTube posts, it appears that these conversations still need to happen, still need to continue, and still need to at least lead to some answers.
And this is what Pantene and Rappler hope to do with #WHIPIT: carry on with conversations, to talk about matters that we all know should be discussed yet we keep them hush-hushed.
Whip it good – for the better
Rappler believes in having meaningful conversations. The #WHIPIT campaign aims to inspire discussions that have long been dropped, picked up, dropped again, revived sometime, and then swept under the rug again. (READ: #WHIPIT Women who beat the odds)
Gender justice is not passé. And as long as women are still subjected to gender-based inequities, it will never be passé.
It’s a theme that resonates for women – and men – around the world. Here’s a breakdown of the global conversation on social media by country.
It started in the Philippines. And rippled around the world.
Join the conversation. And we hope that by talking more about it, we could properly address it finally – and somehow put things into more proper gendered perspectives. – Rappler.com
#WHIPIT – A challenge for women to be empowered and shine boldly by defying beyond labels and stereotypes
Watch out for the full results of the survey and more discussions on gender bias here on Rappler. You can also join our #WHIPIT Wednesdays conversations.
There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.