There are many issues and topics making headlines these days. Our country is being torn apart from the inside out as activist groups are crying out for justice. People are taking to the streets to voice their frustrations, pains and experiences. You see neighbors embracing arms or spewing contempt for the others belief’s and principles. Thought leaders are pushing emotional intelligence and logic at the same time people choose censorship.
For well over 30 years now, you have a razor company that has been cornering the market. Silently it sits there profiting obscene amounts of money year over year. For decades men were forced to over pay for razors with limited options. As society grows more and more hostile Gillette has been fighting their own battles as a company. Their goal is to maintain their sales. They face competition from various leading manufacturers like Harry’s. Men can now buy a high quality razor at half the price or they can choose Dollar Shave Club and make it cut and dry, no pun intended. Gillette’s response was to lower their prices, offer online ordering and produce a new series of commercials that might speak to their target. They had to adapt to what the customer wanted. Their commercial show casing the employees was a reach to show they supplied jobs to US citizens and that these families have been working there for years. This was to paint Gillette as more than just a razor company, but to show you where your money was seemingly going so to gain your compassion.
I painted this back story so you can understand this is more than just an emotionally driven ad. This is an ad. This is a tactic to create buzz. The driving force for this buzz was to tap into something so emotionally fueled it would make headlines. We saw NIKE do this recently with Colin. Here’s the thing… NIKE does this and they are good at it. They challenge us with their boundaries, but that’s what their brand is about. They have always challenged us at our core to be the best version on the field. Some might argue off the field but they inspire people to push what sports is and the athletes behind the brand. NIKE has been a center point for controversy. More on this in another post.
Let me make this clear. I am not down playing the issue Gillette decided to focus on here. It is an issue. There are many issues on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to sex, gender and orientation. Gillette has never taken a position of such moral high ground and we don’t know their brand for this. We know them for that gasping expression we make when we stare at the aisle shelves, and try to justify the price. I’m not even going to start on their over designing and gimmicks.
The important thing to understand here is that this isn’t a moment of moral obligation and consciousness on behalf of Gillette. I will give them some credit but they went about it completely wrong. I truly question the validity of their position to be genuine. Gillette alienated their target market by acting like the absent parent who was never there for you and then wants to show up and tell you how you should act. Maybe they feel some guilt for their own sexism over the years but are they really in the position to be lecturing anyone? I get one could argue someone has to make a stand, but there are better ways on doing this. This article isn’t about that. Because regardless of how you feel, their ad got you talking. You either support them or you don’t and this has driven the divide even faster now. For some, I’m sure they have solidified peoples choice to never choose them again.
And with your emotions fueled beaming down a direction that aligns with you, Gillette has made sure you remember they are still here. Gillette needed to do something drastic to get people on board with “who they are” and “what they stand for”. Gillette took their hook and gave it a 180 degree meaning. I get what they tried to do, but personally feel they failed miserably at it. They haven’t really had an identity other than the over priced razor. As a brand, they had to evolve but the question is have they really done that. For their brand to show its position is authentic and genuine, they have to adopt this belief structure and moral justice for years to come. They need to advocate with media and other groups, otherwise it’s a blatant attempt as another marketing ploy.
Gillette has decided to play a political hotspot for sales. Just remember that when you think these board members collectively had a “coming to Jesus moment”. When you want to advertise and make sure your brand stands for something, you can’t come out of left field swinging a hammer like you were there the whole time.
I personally have switched to Harry’s (no I am not getting paid to say that). I like their sleek design, costs, quality and their honest approach.
Perhaps a better angle for the ad should have been Gillette showing an ad that brings people together for a “solutions for a better world, not just a better man”.
In case you haven’t seen the commercial. I ask you to watch it after taking a different perspective on it from an advertising and branding view point.