Rahul Sachitanand
Nov 26, 2020

Letting your hair stand out, in a market where blending in is the norm

In hidebound Japan, Pantene and Grey encourage the LGBTQIA+ community to be their true selves, beginning with their hair and job hunt.

Japan's corporate culture can be notoriously difficult to adjust to for anyone who doesn't conform to a narrow set of ideals. The Japanese are known to have strict rules of engagement for job interviews (knock twice before entering a conference room) and at work (some offices contentiously prescribe the length of heels for women) that could leave those with a unique sense of identity feeling left out. 

The repercussions of this culture are amplified further within the LGBTQIA+ community, who account for nearly a tenth of the country's population, but over three-quarters of them report facing discriminaton during their search job search, according to a 2019 survey by non-profit organisation Rebit.

This research underpins a #PrideHair project by Pantene Japan and Grey Tokyo, featuring LGBTQIA+ former-job hunters who have felt pressured to pretend to be someone they’re not. According to the companies, hair is one of the main expressions of identity for an LGBTQIA+ person, and is therefore a stressor during the job-hunting process.

The #PrideHair project is the third installment of Pantene Japan’s “#HairWeGo: My Hair Moves Me Forward” campaign, encouraging everyone to express their true selves and to take the first step towards being who they really want to be. The main film features an interview with two transgender former job hunters.

The #PrideHair project was launched with a series of ongoing ads which began airing last month. The aim is to create awareness and start a conversation around the challenges for LGBTQIA+ job hunters, and to give courage and hope to not just LGBTQIA+ job hunters, but also to the next generation; so they can also be inspired by the stories of these proud and brave LGBTQIA+ role models.

Within a week of the launch, the film was viewed more than 20 million times on Twitter and YouTube. The campaign was also aired on TV, featured on billboards near the main train stations around the city, and printed in newspapers.

“We want the #PrideHair project to become the impetus to start the conversation around better and more diversified job hunting. It was encouraging to see the campaign had such a positive impact," said Yoshiaki Okura, the CMO of Hair Care APAC at Procter & Gamble.

The challenges faced by this communuty deeply affected Masanori Tagaya, executive creative director, Grey Tokyo. "While most people worry about facts like which job or company, there are people who worry about how or whether they should reveal the most basic aspect of their identity. Only someone who has been through this can understand and share their story. My job was to get their life experiences out to the world," he said.


Agency: Grey Tokyo

• Executive Creative Director: Masanori Tagaya
• Senior Creative Director: Jun Ogasawara
• Creative Director: Ryuma Kodaka
• Associate Creative Director: Yoichi Inamura
• Senior Art Director: Kei Takimoto
• Art Director: Shota Ishikawa
• Interactive Art Director: Katsuhiro Fujimoto
• Junior Art Director: Takuya Tanaka
• Copy Writer: Masanori Tagaya, Yukika Anan
• Designer: Tatsuo Tamaru
• Executive Planning Director: Rui Nago
• Planner: Satomi Nagata
• Producer: Daijiro Yamakawa, Yoshiaki Saito
• Senior Account Director: Sayaka Adachi
• Account Executive: Melissa Lim

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