Molly Priesmeyer is the co-owner of Good Work Group, a creative and storytelling consultancy dedicated to helping mission-driven businesses and organizations succeed. Her stories on everything from arts to culture to the environment have appeared in the Star Tribune; Pioneer Press; City Pages; Rolling Stone; Mpls. St. Paul Magazine; MinnPost; and more. She has been working on her best-selling novel "Why Me? A Martyr's Guide to Life" since fourth grade.

Women aren't "always" apologizing: Where viral ads go wrong

Posted by: Molly Priesmeyer Updated: June 22, 2014 - 12:34 AM

It's easy to be tempted by Upworthy-ish "you have to see this to believe this" bait. Wait, there's something I can't believe yet? Pant. Click. Watch. Shrug. 

In in many ways, that style of pseudo-journalism and storytelling is low-hanging fruit, ripe and easy to pick apart to reveal the empty innards. (If you haven't seen the Onion's send-up of these salivate sites, you must check out ClickHole. You won't believe what happens next!) 

And when giant brands with hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising attempt to create a "movement" through clickbait viral ads, a lot can go wrong. 

Take, for example, the new "viral ad" by Pantene. The ad, "Not Sorry," is Pantene's latest effort from its "Shine Strong" campaign, which has a series of videos and hashtags to go along with it. 

The first  irony here, among many, is the video opener. It starts with the question: "Why are Women Always Apologizing?" 

Are they? Are women always apologizing? Are women always doing anything? Are all women the same? And if women are "apologizing" profusely, should women be ashamed of that fact? Maybe women are "always" apologizing because they're held to unrealistic standards. And certainly unrealistic beauty standards, reinforced by brands like Pantene et al.

Advertisers, if you want to create an authentic viral campaign or start a "movement," don't seek out the victim and exploit her insecurities, as in the case of Patene and, recently, Dove. Do you remember Dove's viral ads from earlier this where they hoodwinked a bunch of women into believing they were wearing a scientifically proven beauty patch? All in an attempt to "prove" that the idea of beauty comes from within? 

Real movements are creating by empowerment. Not shame. If these brands were earnest in their attempts to empower women, they wouldn't be exploiting what's "wrong" with them. They'd be showing them that our current concept of beauty is destructive and dangerous, especially to young women. And they'd stop reinforcing it. You'd have to see it to believe it. 

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