Saying Sorry Isn’t Just Limited To Women

Saying Sorry Isn’t Just Limited To Women

Pantene’s latest ad has sparked discussion about whether women apologise too much.

Emma Mackenzie
Posted by Emma Mackenzie

Kara Jenkins, creative director at Isobar, believes the issue of saying sorry isn’t just limited to women.

“The issue that people say sorry when they shouldn’t is not a gender equality issue, it’s a confidence issue, and certainly one that isn’t limited to women,” she said.

“I feel that this ad sets out to achieve an admirable goal – to help women realise it’s ok to be assertive and confident in life, but it has missed the point in focusing on the art of the apology to do this.”

The ad is the sequel to Pantene’s ‘Labels Against Women’ late last year and looks at the amount of times women apologise throughout the day.

When someone comes and sits next to a woman she immediately apologises and removes the miniscule amount of elbow she had on the armrest.

Or when piping up in the middle of the meeting to ask a question, the woman in the ad precedes the, what she believes is a stupid question, with “sorry”.

“Empowering women to be confident, assertive, ask for what they want and not avoid confrontation is a whole other challenge, which this campaign doesn’t address,” Jenkins added.

“At least it puts the issue on the agenda and the concept would hit home for a lot of women – and men. It has certainly been very effective in getting people talking all over the world.”

Sarah Eberspacher from The Week however believes the ad is a rip off of Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign.

“Frankly, both feel incredibly disingenuous to me (“You’re perfect the way you are! Be the woman you know you can be! P.S., you still need to shower, so buy our soaps and shampoos!”), but at least Dove called shotgun on this marketing tactic years ago,” she writes.

The ad has generated much buzz online such as through comment sections on sites like Mamamia and AdWeek with a comment thread on the Mail Online asking whether we apologise too much.

Jessica Valenti from The Guardian in the US says beauty companies are now targeting our insecurities to make us buy their products.

“Beauty companies are now trying to make us feel insecure about our insecurities – all while giving themselves a pat on the back for “empowering” us to feel better (and collecting our money, of course),” she writes.

“Pantene is the most recent company to fall into the ‘confidence gap’: telling women that the source of their woes isn’t workplace inequality or crappy partners who don’t do their fair share, but women themselves. According to this new dictum, women are self-sabotaging at work, love and life.”

Read Valenti’s full article here.

Carmela Soares, creative director at Huckleberry Agency, believes the ad isn’t necessarily about saying sorry all the time, but targets the fact people apologise for things that aren’t offensive.

“I don’t personally see apologising as a weakness. But the ad is not about apologising,” she said.

“It’s about apologising constantly about things that are not necessarily offensive. And this subject is part of the zeitgeist. There’s a bigger conversation happening in society now about female empowerment, and the ‘sorry’ situation is one of the aspects of this discussion.

“The ad is based around a generalisation, and not all situations portrayed will necessarily resonate with all women, but whenever an ad makes people reflect on their own behaviours, it’s always a good thing.”