The Red Herring of Consumer Goods: #likeagirl #sorrynotsorry

Hmmm I understand that Cause Marketing and the Purpose Economy are absolutely steps in the right direction for businesses that are interested in doing more than creating a big ‘ol carbon footprint.

I think it’s great that Sustainability Reporting is becoming a regular practice. I also think that messages that seek to empower women are much more agreeable than those that seek to dictate gender norms (think: Dove’s ‘real women’ campaign vs. Marc Jacobs’s stick woman campaign).

BUT I have to say it grates my nerves when giant corporations are the ones to create the warm and fuzzy, ‘let’s stop and think’, ‘women are people too’ campaigns. Brands like Always and Pantene are part of the same huge nexus of power that helped build the old marketing model: “Women are not born perfect and they need our product to look, smell and feel ‘right’.”

the face of Marc Jacobs, Chloe Memisevic

the face of Marc Jacobs, Chloe Memisevic

In fact, Always and Pantene are owned by the same company, Procter & Gamble, that also owns a zillion other consumer goods products. P & G owns (to name only a few) Dawn, Crest, Duracell, Tide, Clairol, CoverGirl, Secret, Gillette, Swiffer, Tide, and Tampax.

Always’s #likeagirl campaign is annoying because of the blatant disconnect between product and campaign (the demographic reached is the only commonality). Yes, it sucks that the phrase ‘like a girl’ has been used pejoratively for generations. But, is the fight against female marginalization really one that can/should be fought by a company that has questionable policies regarding price fixing, animal testing, false advertisement, deforestation and use of toxic chemicals? (Check out the Procter & Gamble Wikipedia or google ‘Procter & Gamble controversy’.)

I know, I know, maybe you want to think “Oh, it’s great that someone is taking steps to right this wrong, to bring this injustice to the attention of the masses, blah blah, blah.” The reality is that half of the population is already aware of this injustice (women), and though it deserves more discourse in popular culture/mass media, a big company that sells pads isn’t solving the problem. What this big company IS doing, is drawing attention away from their less than savory policies regarding the environment and labor. By blinding the public with this “pro-women” campaign, we all are thinking, “What a great brand Always is,” rather than, “WTF is this plastic made of that I’m strapping to my crotch once a month?”

BMSOOb0CEAA8-k9The new Pantene commercials that have taken up the #sorrynotsorry phrase just fucking kill me though. Yes, women say ‘sorry’ more than men, we take up less space on the streets, we are more conscious of those around us. There are studies confirming these occasions as facts. But what does any of that have to do with shampoo? I’ll tell you what it doesn’t have to do with… animal testing, sodium laureth sulfate, and 12 hour workdays for its Chinese employees.

C’mon girls (and guys), let’s not let the wool get pulled over our eyes this easily. While it’s whatever to see these commercials on your Facebook feed or on TV, don’t go running out to buy these products without doing some research.

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