Gillette (Proctor & Gamble) wants to be the corporate hero of the day as they roll out their “shaving toxic masculinity” ad. If you haven’t seen the spot, it’s all about how men often act like jerks, are bullies and treat women badly. Its message is actually age-old and classic; that men should act like gentlemen and teach boys about respect and kindness to all, regardless of our differences.
Gillette blew it in my opinion. Their marketing group projected their own cultural and political bias onto their target audience and many of us are turned off by their overt condemnation of all masculinity as “toxic.”
The message of respect and kindness itself is good but the thrust of the ad presupposes that disciplined respect by men is a new, progressive idea and that men need to clean up their act, never mind our unshaven faces. If there’s a positive side for Gillette, the brand will gain additional support from the market segment in which the message resonates, but that would be a hard segment to measure.
The Marketing Risks
I believe the risks for Gillette are twofold. 1) They have annoyed a sizable portion of their customer base because the ad’s tone implies that most men have been jerks all along but things are different now and they better get with the times! 2) The ad’s video news clip collage panders to progressive political leanings and the #MeToo movement. It will be seen as an insincere play on promoting social justice.
As a longtime Gillette customer, I’m very annoyed! Why did this corporation jump headlong for no apparent reason into a politically charged cultural movement, attempting to shame men and correct their behavior?
The only behavior of mine that Gillette has any business in whatsoever is my grooming behavior.
As for social behavior, I will look to my Church, family, friends, neighbors and colleagues for feedback and correction, and so should the rest of Gillette’s audience in my opinion. There are no moral and spiritual leaders in the marketing team at Gillette or all of Proctor and Gamble and they have no business assuming moral authority in their advertising campaigns.
Here’s the Marketing Kicker
My advice is to keep all of your business messages on point. Attempting to use your company’s platform to influence the culture will only divert your attention and resources away from your primary business purpose – serving your customers.
I believe the best marketing is sincere marketing. So far, my best shaves have been with Gillette razors. They make excellent shaving products and that’s the only message I want to hear from a razor company that profits from my continued patronage.