The newest ad for Secret deodorant builds on the fantastic 2016 spot “Raise,” by having some no-nonsense fun at the expense of the gender wage gap. Here, in an ad created by Wieden+Kennedy, the message is in music video form, starring Sophia Bush and Samira Wiley, soccer legend Abby Wambach, and Olympic gold medalist and WNBA champion Swin Cash. The tune’s name seemed to been inspired by Ladies Get Paid, whose founders Claire Wasserman and Ashley Louise also appear in the ad.
This is all great. Any time a brand and major corporation puts their marketing muscle behind an issue like this, it’s a good thing. Secret has also partnered with Ladies Get Paid and women’s coworking space the Wing to provide resources to women pushing for pay equality, such as a salary negotiation toolkit, and, through December, the brand and Ladies Get Paid are hosting workshops at The Wing coworking locations around the U.S. to help women navigate the current unequal pay climate and advocate for progress.
But any time a brand or company advocates for an issue in its marketing, it also (rightly) invites scrutiny into its own practices. Remember how male State Street’s board looked in the shadow of Fearless Girl? Not to mention parent company State Street Corporation’s payout of $5m in October 2017 to settle unequal pay allegations. Still, that shouldn’t scare brands away from taking a stand.
For Secret, even though parent P&G has been very active in recent years promoting equality in management positions and equal pay, according to U.K. government research, it still has plenty of work to do. The Gender Pay Gap Service reports that as of 2017, women’s mean hourly pay rate at P&G in the U.K. was 18.9% lower than men’s and women’s median hourly rate was 29.8% lower than men’s. Which is…uh, nothing to sing about.
P&G has not yet responded to a request for comment but I’ll update the story if that changes.
UPDATE: P&G spokesperson sent the following comments, “P&G is committed to fair pay and we regularly conduct audits to confirm that we pay equitably for similar roles and similar performance, regardless of gender. Based on audits P&G has conducted over the last year in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Germany, U.K., Switzerland, Australia and several other countries with statistically significant male and female populations, P&G has confirmed that it pays equitably for similar roles and similar performance, regardless of gender or ethnicity.”
UPDATE 2: P&G’s UK gender pay data was split across three different entities–corporate, product supply, and technical centers. Viewed as one, to represent mean pay across P&G’s entire UK workforce, the difference is 2.2%, as compared to the U.K. national average of 17.5%. So that’s something to sing about.