In late 2021, Pantene released a new ad campaign for its Miracles Silky & Glowing line of hair care products, for which they partnered with the UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Lucy Edwards, a popular blind beauty influencer, journalist, and BBC presenter.
The campaign highlights the fact that not only is soft, healthy hair visually stunning; it also feels wonderful on your scalp and when you touch it, something that visually impaired and blind people appreciate just like the rest of us.
When it comes to what consumers look for today, the ad ticks all the boxes:
- Inclusivity. A recent Deloitte survey found that 57% of American consumers are more likely to stay loyal to brands that are committed to fighting for equality and social justice. By spotlighting an underserved and underrepresented group in beauty and wellness advertising, Pantene is following this new (and welcome!) trend.
- Connection. Today’s consumers, especially younger generations, want to feel a connection with ads. By showing that they value the experience of visually impaired and blind consumers (and want to help make their products more accessible - more on that later), Pantene is making that connection. Working with the charming and friendly Lucy Edwards, who is a member of the visually impaired community and an advocate, helps to reinforce that feeling.
- Sincerity. Over the past year, we’ve looked at both “pink washing” and “rainbow washing”. These are phenomena where companies seem to support issues like the fight against breast cancer and LGBTQ+ rights, but in reality it’s only a way to ride the coattails of events like Breast Cancer Awareness Month or Pride Month. As time goes on, consumers are increasingly wary - and weary - of this type of advertising, and rightly so!
When a company aligns itself with a particular community or cause, they must prove that they’re sincere. They should show real support by doing things like consulting with actual members of that community, and also giving them a voice and platform.
Pantene has done this admirably, by consulting with the RNFB and taking time to understand the needs and challenges of visually impaired and blind consumers, and by letting a blind person be the voice of the campaign.
- Actually helping the community. There’s certainly a commercial reason behind it, but Pantene’s campaign has actually done what any inclusive ad campaign should ideally do: Help those it’s advertising towards, in a myriad of ways.
The company could have simply rested on their laurels and lauded their product line’s abilities to improve damaged hair. Instead, they’ve worked to help sponsor and create beauty tutorials that are accessible to visually impaired people.
The company has also put a NaviLens on their packaging at Superdrug stores. This technology allows visually impaired people to scan a symbol with their mobile device that will read aloud what is on printed packaging. The Pantene campaign is the first time that NaviLens has ever been used on a hair care product in the UK (hopefully this will become much more common).
The ad campaign has garnered immensely positive feedback. It’s been covered 100% positively by over 38 publications. Even a simple Google search of “Lucy Edwards Pantene campaign” results in a plethora of glowing reviews and articles. Pantene, along with the advertising agencies it worked with, PrettyGreen and What They Said, have won a Drum Award for New Product or Service Launch Strategy of the Year. And sales of Miracles Silky & Glowing products have exceeded expectations.
Hopefully, this critical, consumer, and commercial attention will serve as a reminder that inclusive ad campaigns done right can be a massive success - and can help underserved and underrepresented communities in the process!