The best a brand can be?

Picture of a razor

When I sent a message out to the team asking what people thought of the new Gillette ad that has been causing a bit of a stir, I was kind of surprised at the response.

Just to clarify, we have a pretty healthy gender balance here at Six, so I was expecting to get a range of views. Now, this is more likely a reflection of the wonderful men that work here, however it seems they just weren’t that bothered by all the fuss.

So, does this mean that they don’t identify with the overall message as, let’s face it, we’re already a fairly liberal, forward-thinking industry…aren’t we?

“Why are we even having this conversation!?” commented Raymond.

The ad is on track to become one of the most hated ever. In just a week, Gillette had more than 24 million YouTube views, 1.1 million dislikes and 658,000 likes.

So, what is all the fuss about? And why has there been such an angry backlash out there? Laura, one of our planners and a self-confessed hippy, thinks this might be one of the reasons why people are objecting.

“They object to a brand leveraging social issues to sell products – this is more a question of the times we live in. Look at the outcry around Nike using Colin Kaepernick in their campaign. It caused absolute mayhem, but the overall value of the company increased by $6billion. People can hate brands getting political as much as they like but, ultimately, when done correctly, it delivers.”

Our Design Director Jen agrees: “I think this ad is refreshing. It’s culturally relevant, timely, and a fantastic example of companies like Gillette (yes, the brand that for years has promoted a vision of chiseled men in towels) challenging their own advertising stereotypes and standing up for issues important to not just their customers, but our society too.

I for one am sick of the frankly outdated clichés of masculinity that the media still clings to.

Good for you Gillette: I hope this ad will have a positive impact and will encourage everyday men – and brands – to put down the facades they perceive as important, and focus on the things that really are.”

Not everyone is on board, and certainly not with hijacking the significance of the #metoo movement.

Sally, Account Director, agrees it’s a very powerful message, however…

“I don’t feel comfortable with a brand using the #metoo movement as a springboard to promote themselves. It feels too elevated, too big a conversation for Gillette. Had they executed it at a more personal level and focused purely on gender stereotypes, then they could have rightfully owned that space.

 For example, the moment of reflection a man has when shaving in the morning, both physically and metaphorically, could have been equally powerful. In 2013 Dove did this really well with their ‘Beauty Sketches’, where they show the internal reflections of women, which collectively tell a story about self-image. These work for me, as it is the stories of the women which form the substance, rather than a provocative script from a brand.

 Essentially, I think Gillette have gone too ‘blockbuster’. I don’t doubt the intentions of the brand or the creatives behind it – the message is an important one. But I think brands need to tread carefully when it comes to taking on and representing big issues in the advertising space.”

The good news

With the brand pledging to donate $1m a year to charitable programmes that aim to help men (who need support) achieve their best, and being the most talked about brand to kick start 2019, it remains to be seen whether Gillette will suffer any real long-term damage as a business.

And, personally, any brand that turns Piers Morgan ‘off’ is onto a winner!

Ruth Clarke

February 1, 2019

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