The Bachelorette is a show with notoriously pretzel-like gender dynamics.
On the one hand, the ABC dating program puts a woman in total control of the traditionally patriarchal dating structure-and undercuts the notion that promiscuity in men is admirable while in women it is shameful. (These feminist undertones, while perhaps accidental, do seem to take some of the guilt out of this guilty pleasure for some women.) On the other hand, each season is explicitly orchestrated to culminate with one of the culture’s most conventional and one-sided relationship rituals.
That backdrop, it turns out, was an inspired one for the first showing of Wieden + Kennedy’s latest commercial for Secret deodorant. The spot aired during The Bachelorette’s season premiere last night-and also had plenty to say, in strong and stylish fashion, about gender dynamics today:
This is the second round of W+K work for the Procter & Gamble brand to deal with so-called “stress sweat,” which P&G says is biologically different than physically induced sweat. The first spots, back in April, dealt with one culturally weighty topic-the wage gap-as well as a more personal one-saying “I love you” over text message.
This new spot, “The Question,” is the best one yet.
It’s a sly mix of comedy and tension, with great casting and subtle acting that really lets the scenario build nicely. When the reveal happens-even if you see it coming-it feels believable, and like a breakthrough, because of the obvious stress of the situation. Which by the way makes for a fine connection to the brand, even if inverting gender roles to sell product can still feel icky, however pure the motive.
Now, the more important question: Does the guy say yes?
Client: Procter & Gamble/Secret
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.