Pantene Chrysalis: A Rhetorical Analysis
The media's influence may be found everywhere. Billboards can be seen in any urban area as well as some suburban ones. Commercials dominate around seventeen minutes of every sixty-minute television program. Their overall messages are the same: do this, buy that, use something, watch something else and change the status quo because it is supposedly not good enough.
One noteworthy commercial is the four-and-a-half Pantene Chrysalis television advertisement by Grey of Thailand. It stands out because of its innately wonderful story. The interesting thing is that first time viewers cannot really tell that it is an advertisement until the Pantene brand name appears during the last few seconds of the commercial. At first glance, it seems to be relaying a moral lesson of perseverance for anyone who feels disadvantaged, downtrodden, or bullied. The last minute product endorsement even seems like an afterthought that interrupts the story. It does not push its product like the more in-your-face advertising seen in United States commercials (Grey Thailand, n.d.).
Before proceeding with the discussion, kindly note that the author does not claim to actually use this product. Rather, it was chosen because of its ties to the aforementioned commercial and the unique nature of the latter. In this paper, the author will examine a number of aspects of the commercial: the advertisement's claims, the values that it communicates, the advertising medium itself and its intended audience. It will also examine how effective it argues its case given all of the aforementioned aspects.
First, the commercial's claim appears to be the same as that of any shampoo commercial, even if it is done in a uniquely compelling way. The tagline at the end says it all: "You can shine." This is a bit of a play on words, considering the nature of the product. On one hand, it literally means that the shampoo can make one's hair shine like no other. On the other hand, the more figurative meaning states that people can become respected and famous just by using the product. The word "shine" here refers to the person's ability to excel in a chosen field. In other words, Pantene does not only make hair shine—it also helps people perform at their best. Of course, the connection between the product and the person's performance is tenuous at best, yet that is still the main premise of the commercial. The advertisement does not say how the product can help the person achieve this; it only says that it can do so.
Second, the nature of the commercial and the message it carries imply a lot of things about the values that it wishes to impart. For instance, the prospect of "shining" in both a literal and figurative sense communicates the importance of looking one's best as well as being at one's best. The emphasis is on peak performance and persevering against all odds. This is seen in the emotional story that is told within its four-and-a-half minute time span. According to the commercial, perfecting one's craft and earning the respect and admiration of everyone are important. It does not come easily, however—one must surpass many challenges on the road to success. Fortunately, a product like Pantene Chrysalis exists. This can supposedly help aspiring performers reach their goals.
The advertisement argues for these values through its medium of presentation. It is probably no coincidence that the advertisers chose a visual medium to promote their product. The main reason why the advertisement does not feel like one until the very end is because the Grey Thailand writers made it tell a story first. Good stories are very compelling, especially if they involve dark horses. What better way to grab a target audience's attention than by telling a success story? Furthermore, the chosen medium makes sense given the fact that the heroine of the story is deaf. Since she cannot hear, it would have been awkward to portray her disability using another medium (say a radio or print ad); doing so would not have been quite as effective. Lastly, the visual medium allows for a variety of story tricks. Writers can speed up or slow down time and splice segments from many scenes together for dramatic effect. It is significantly more difficult, if not impossible, to do this using other forms of advertisement.
Given all its characteristics, the Pantene Chrysalis commercial is a mixed blessing with respect to its ability to construct, relay and argue for its message and values. It excels in certain was, yet falls short in certain other ways. These help and hinder its effectiveness.
First, the commercial "shines" with respect to its power to compel viewers emotionally. The appeal of the advertisement lies in its storytelling and its ability to evoke a certain inspirational mood. It speaks to the heart of any musician, performer or "average person on the street" who aspires to be someone greater than average. As a short film, it is in a league of its own.
This is a double-edged sword, however. While the advertisement arguably tells a good story, the danger is that viewers may be so enamored by that story that they forget all about the product it is trying to sell (which ironically only appears for a few seconds at the very end). The fact that there is no logical connection between the story and the product only makes matters worse. In other words, the problem is not that it is no good—the commercial is simply too good that it leaves little room for its product to maneuver in. Its biggest strength is also its greatest weakness.
In closing, the Pantene Chrysalis is an excellent example of how good storytelling and cinematography can turn a commercial into an attention-grabber. Nevertheless, it suffers from being illogical and ultimately too good a form of advertising for its own product. It is a shining example of creative advertising, yet its radiance can unintentionally blind its audience as well.
Grey Thailand. (n.d.). "Pantene Chrysalis: You Can Shine." Retrieved from