Gillette: A bang-on strategy with shoddy execution

Gillette caused a storm in a teacup this year by releasing the ‘We Believe: The Best Men Can Be’ ad, which takes aim at toxic masculinity. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here:

In theory, all should have been well. As one of my fellow Homies mentioned in a previous blog on cause-based marketing, if a brand is going to comment on a social or political issue, they need to speak honestly, have relevancy, be humble and ultimately take action.

Well, Gillette were brutally honest about how toxic masculinity is seen, the message is hugely relevant to their target audience and actually, they were pretty humble. Not once did they claim that their razors could solve the issue at hand. They are even donating $1million per year to charities to help men ‘be the best they can be’… That’s ‘taking action’ right there.

For me, the strategy was bang on but the execution was shocking. The way they approached the issue was shrouded in negativity, and being negative is not a good way to sell your product. They should have been motivational, not insulting. It’s like Coke coming out with an ad that has an execution of: ‘Hey Generation Z’ers, you’re all snowflakes and too easily offended. You’re boring and need to socialise more. You think you’re all unique but you’re not. Now have a Coke?’

The resulting outcome was one that alienates their current audience – as pointed out in this piece from Mark Ritson. The alienation is even more prevalent with their U.K. audience, as the overly American style doesn’t translate well across the pond.

However, our very own Insight & Strategy Director, Sarah Wareham, aired a point of view in the office the other day that I find very interesting. I’m paraphrasing here, but whilst Gillette’s ad may alienate the current audience, is that such a bad thing? If it’s a long-term strategy that they are trying to implement, have they not done exceptionally well at targeting the new ‘Generation Z’ who are all about standing for a cause and talking about what they believe in? This new emerging audience wants to see brands that actually stand for something and a cause that they can get behind. This ad may be the first step in creating that for them as far as Gillette is concerned.

Written by:

Miles Williams

Category:

What we think

Date:

15/01/2019

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