It might be a well-trodden creative route, but Ad Nut can't deny that featuring top athletes who have overcome controversy in film-like ads complete with stirring music is a winning combination.
Two new "Braids of Strength" videos by Grey Group, released to celebrate this year's International Women's Day, make up the third wave of Pantene Malaysia's WanitaBesi ('Iron Lady') bid to help girls feel more confident through sport.
The stars are the 24-year-old Malaysian gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi, who was criticised by religious leaders for wearing a leotard that didn't cover her thighs when she competed in the 2015 Southeast Asia Games, and 36-year-old Nur Suryani, who made headlines when she entered the shooting at the London 2012 Olympic Games eight months pregnant. Both stayed in sport, despite the challenges.
Girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys by the age of 14, note the ads, and research by Pantene found that one reason is "the perceived damage that heat and sweat cause to hair". The brand's response was to develop what is described as "a uniquely engineered braiding technique to keep hair both strong and beautiful" - a reverse French plait, as most of us would see it. Ad Nut is rather dubious about the highfalutin claim that this "reduces friction by immobilising the hair strands, prevents tangling and reduces sweat", but Ad Nut's fur is probably a little short to experiment with so what would Ad Nut know.
The campaign's insights, aims and execution are solid, in any case. The videos and their message are backed up by a partnership between Pantene and the Fitness First gym chain, which is offering free access to women wearing braids throughout March.
Way to go, Pantene.
Graham Drew, Executive Creative Director
Andrew Fong, Creative Director
Jo Yau, General Manager
Brendan Low, Copywriter
Sara Lai, Art Director
Suzy Chiang, Producer
Daphne Wong, Brand Director
Vivian Khoo, Account Executive
Huma Qureshi, Regional Director PR & Corp Comms AMEA
Think Tank Directors Sdn Bhd
Glass Fin (KL)
Fuse Asia Sdn Bhd
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Campaign's Women Leading Change
We'll be discussing gender equality and attitudes towards women in media and marketing at our annual Women Leading Change conference in Singapore on 4 June, 2019.
Register your interest and find out more about entering our Women Leading Change Awards (early bird entry deadline: 8 March) at www.womenleadingchange.asia.