Gillette has been the topic of most marketing debates this month with their latest ad ‘We Believe’ – a modern take on their historic tagline ‘The best a man can get’. A one-minute film released on YouTube tackles the topic of masculinity head-on, calling for everyone to make a change for ‘the men of tomorrow’.
The video has so far generated over 25 million views and has received an incredible amount of PR. But with a huge 63% of engagements on YouTube being negative, it’s not all good news; the ad has proved to be inspirational and emotionally stirring for some, but patronising and derogatory for others.
It’s easy to see how they got there, both in trying to capitalise on the buzz of current conversation and steer their brand into fifth gear towards the Gen Z-ers they need to attract, and the Millennial audience they need to re-engage with and grow.
Meanwhile their share of the razor market has fallen in recent years as innovative competitors such as Dollar Shave Club attract these younger audiences.
Gillette will have identified the power of brand purpose with these audiences in particular to drive business results, and gain back share in the market.
73% of millennials are willing to spend (Nielsen) more on a product which comes from a brand which prioritises making a positive impact on the world. Gen Z go a step further; 76% of them claim to have purchased a brand or product purely because they supported issues they cared about.
It doesn’t take a revered marketing professional to see that successful cause-driven marketing drives results and invigorates brands from within. Last year’s Cannes Lions nominations saw 15 of the 25 Grand Prix winning campaigns linked directly to a cause, for example.
The next logical step for Gillette was to drive long-term connections with their audiences by taking a stance on the biggest issues facing these generations – and clearly identified toxic masculinity as their target.
Unfortunately for them, Lynx has already made moves into this space. Having previously used an archaic strapline which didn’t feel current or relevant, their award-winning Men In Progress campaign took talent their audience love and created authentic content around masculinity and mental health.
The difference between the Lynx campaign and the backlash we’ve seen against Gillette is that the narrative of the former started from a positive place, and offered a new take on what it is to be a man today in a genuine and heartwarming way which addresses the issue of maintaining masculine norms.
Comparatively, Gillette’s ad points out the issue in light of #MeToo, and whilst celebrating those men who are leading the way, there is potentially an accusatory tone and a call to arms for men to do better. It’s certainly a brave approach, but has also been labelled provocative.
Brands are often celebrated and increasingly expected to have a point of view and take action on the issues which we face as a society. But taking a stand will, by its very nature, attract some criticism.
Only when the brand purpose is clear and the campaign platform derived from real, meaningful customer insight will a campaign like this see success – otherwise it’s just another brand getting involved in a debate in which it has no authentic voice.