In 1986, Pantene launched its "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful" campaign. Reflecting the looksist hedonism of the times, the work traded on traditional notions of female beauty while touting the Procter & Gamble hair-care brand's ability to help women look more like Kelly LeBrock, Iman and other stars who appears in the ads.
America had a love/hate relationship with the commercials, which proved exceeding popular in some quarters but met with derision from others who slammed the shallow, sexist vibe and obsession with surface details.
Fast forward to 2019, and we've come a long way. Maybe.
Now, WorldPride sponsor Pantene, in partnership with GLADD, changes the formula in videos from Grey New York that celebrate diversity with the rallying cry, "Don't Hate Me Because I'm BeautifuLGBTQ+"
The lead spot above shows people of all sorts, with different sexual orientations and gender identities. It opens with a simple, powerful message, "Don't hate me because of who I love," which, sadly, entire swaths of our nation's population can't seem to get through their ignorantly coiffed heads.
As the ad unfolds, Pantene decries hatred of homosexuals, lesbians, trans people, non-binary folks and others. "Don't hate me because I'm me," we're told near the end. Ultimately, the phrase "because I'm beautiful" morphs into a joyous expression of empowerment to drive the point home.
Set to Keri Hilson's catchy dance track "Pretty Girl Rock," with its "Don't hate me cuz I'm beautiful" chorus, and awash in rainbow colors, the spot has a fun approach that feels brand appropriate (Pantene sells shampoo, after all) and its buoyant, self-reflexive vibe really scores.
"For many in the community, hair plays a pivotal role in their 'transformation moment,'" says Ilaira Resta, vp of North America hair care at P&G. "In fact, from our research we found that 60 percent of LGBTQ+ persons change their hair when they have a life or identity change. So, whether that means getting a major chop or growing out your locks to defy societal norms, or embracing hair that bends the gender binary entirely—hair is an impactful visual cue of transformation, and this new campaign from Pantene aims to show the beauty of all transformations and of all people."
Upcoming videos focus on the transformational experiences of three people, including a transgender Iranian woman tossed in jailed for the length of her hair
"Pantene has raised the bar for authentic inclusion by shining the spotlight on a diverse group of LGBTQ people," says GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "Hearing these individuals speak about their identities as well as their drive to be their true selves will empower other LGBTQ people and remind us all what true beauty is all about."
Pantene's push drops as another famous campaign of yore, Bud Light's "Real Men of Genius," reboots for modern times as "Internet Heroes of Genius."
While markedly different, both efforts speak to the broader power of "the big idea" in advertising. Once such notions resonate in the zeitgeist, they acquire the ability to return in relevant contexts for future generations. In the case of Pantene, perhaps the revised and revitalized campaign can wash away unhealthy strands of the past to let deeper truths shine through.
Creative – Grey NY
Chief Creative Officer: Rodrigo Jatene
Creative Director: Arturo Macouzet
Assistant Creative Director: Bryan Burns
Senior Art Director: Emily Pracher
Account – Grey NY
EVP, Global Account Director: Anjali Jain
SVP, Account Director: Kate Bernhardt
Account Supervisor: Payton Brown
Strategy – Grey NY
Global Strategy Director: Julia Perissinoto
Director of Social Media: Kenny Gold
Senior Content Architect: Finn Leslie
Senior Content Architect: Andrew Pattee
Project Management – Grey NY
Project Manager: Morgan Marc
Production – Townhouse NY
Executive Producer: Keira Rosenthal
Senior Print Producer: Don Lagas
VP Casting: Nina Pratt
Associate Casting Director: Brian Safuto
VP Talent: Natasha Howell
Business Manager: Beverly Beach