Hair care brand Pantene, owned by P&G, this month launched a campaign asking people to embrace their grey hair.

The inspiration behind the campaign as well as its execution was a joint effort: led by Grey London, Publicis Media and Ketchum London.

Katharine Newby Grant, northern Europe marketing director for P&G, spoke about the significance of the haircare brand championing greater diversity in beauty advertising. 

The mood-boosting campaign carries a serious message: people should celebrate their unique set of traits, grey hair or otherwise.

The Insight 

Historically, grey hair didn’t feature prominently in beauty advertising. 

As a result, a significant number of women have been left feeling alienated. 

A study commissioned by Pantene revealed that although 80% of Brits have grey hair, two in five cover it up because they feel less confident with it. 

But in the age of social media, brands and organizations are being held accountable in ways that weren’t possible before. Today’s consumers have become far more likely to call out inequality – and brands, including Pantene – are following suit. 

The Message

Grey hair is something to celebrate.

This is the core message being spread by Pantene’s integrated campaign running across TV, outdoor, print, social and YouTube. Its purpose is to encourage others to question entrenched beliefs about going grey. A billboard ad at Westfield shopping centre in London kicked off the activity. It featured grey-haired models of varying ages, alongside negative commentary on perceptions about grey hair, including: ‘grey hair says – cover me up’, ‘grey hair says – you’ve let yourself go’ and ‘grey hair says – you’re invisible’.

The following day, the billboard revealed Pantene as the brand behind the message, with the declaration:‘we say different’.

Following that, a series of candid videos featuring grey-haired celebrities were released. In the videos, celebrities Lisa Snowdon, Alison Hammond and Andrea Mcleanand spoke out about their experiences having grey hair, which fueled a wider conversation. 

These videos were further supported by influencer marketing activity, with a host of grey-haired influencers, freely and openly sharing their personal journeys about choosing to ‘stay grey’. 

Why it Worked

Brands and individuals alike are taking a more concerted effort to tackle the body positivity movement, spreading inspiring messages of equality about every person’s unique traits – traits we should all love, and accept. 

Brands championing diversity in the beauty industry are helping to normalize differences – bringing a sense of acceptance and validation to those who don’t quite ‘fit the mould’. 

The sentiment is echoed by Katharine Newby Grant of P&G: “People prefer what’s familiar, so deliberately including people of various races, backgrounds, sexual preferences in advertising creates greater familiarity. Over time, it makes images of diversity the norm, not the exception.”

A recent survey commissioned by Pantene confirms their strategy is having the desired effect:

A quarter of Brits said they felt more confident about their own hair after seeing grey-haired figures in the public eye. 

In addition, their research suggests:

  • A quarter of British women have noticed a positive shift surrounding perceptions of ‘going grey’ 
  • Brits that allow their natural greys to show report a positive impact, feeling natural (30%) and authentic (11%) 
  • Brits that allow their natural greys to show feel confident that ‘grey hair is nothing to be ashamed of’

More brands are joining the likes of Pantene – engineering their advertising strategies to be as inclusive and representative as possible – and the tides are turning. The beauty industry is slowly becoming less about playing to people’s insecurities and more about instilling confidence.

You’ve read our blog, now see our platform

Every business has questions about its audiences, GWI has answers. Powered by consistent, global research, our platform is an on-demand window into their world.