Gillette recently released a commercial that has now become infamous. Proctor and Gamble have undoubtedly thrown their hat into the political ring and the results so far have been disastrous (just look at the dislikes). The commercial’s message is a good one - treat each other with respect (especially men) - however, it’s the timing that is all wrong.
The world is currently in the middle of a culture war. Hierarchy's everywhere are under attack and with the weaponization of social media, anyone with privilege or power needs to watch their back, regardless of their track record.
One battle being fought tooth and nail in this broader culture war is the dismantling of ‘toxic masculinity’. The proponents of the elimination of toxic masculinity argue that men are hardwired to behave inappropriately. Those who men who manage to respect other males and treat females properly are a rare and dying breed. Gillette (under P&G) decided to draw a line in the sand, essentially assuming that the feel-good message would resonate with their customers. Boy, did it backfire.
Feel good marketing is nothing new to P&G. They’re one of the pioneers in the advertising space. The trouble with this particular Gillette commercial is that it managed to throw fire on an already raging blaze of conflict between men and essentially what is shaping up to be the far-left establishment.
When corporations take political and moral stances, they must be very careful not to alienate their target market. Most consumers know that the sole purpose of a corporation is to make a profit. This agenda becomes abundantly clear when corporations begin to virtual signal. What they’re really saying to us is “hey, look at us, we’re the good company who is standing up for your beliefs. We want you to buy our product because we care.”
Plenty of market research shows that men who buy shaving products aren’t typically brand-loyal. They’re far more sensitive to price. The goal of all advertising is awareness and the message becomes almost secondary. This is proven every time you click on a link that starts with ‘This one simple hack…’
Surely, Gillette won’t crumble with one unpopular commercial. Like most events these days, it will be soon lost in the sea of information. There is, however, a great lesson on marketing to be learned!