For years the predominant mindset of brands has been to take the path of least resistance in reference to speaking up about hot button issues, but more and more companies are starting to voice their opinions with brands like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Nike, Airbnb, and most recently, Gillette taking a stand.
There are many Americans who dislike that brands are “getting political” and if you are one, I’m sorry to say that I think you are in for a long couple of years. Studies have shown that Millennials and Gen Z (aka the two generations with the most purchasing power) are far more likely to try products from companies that have taken a stand on societal and public policy matters.
But this statistic is not a one-size-fits-all. If a brand is not careful and inserts themselves into a conversation that doesn’t pertain to their values and mission statement or project a message that doesn’t seem authentic, it could be detrimental. Consumers want to support companies that put their money where their mouth is and practice what they are preaching, not contrived PR stunts.
Let’s take the Gillette ad for example. Whether you loved the spot or absolutely hated the message, it’s doing its job to get people talking and plenty of free media coverage. To be effective long-term though, the ad has to live up to its consumer’s standards. Does this ad portray authenticity and is the message relevant to the brand?
In terms of authenticity, I think Gillette missed the mark. Gillette has a long history of catering to men--as clearly enforced by their famous slogan “the best a man can get”. As a consumer, this made me wonder why they chose to attach themselves to the #MeToo and toxic masculinity movements. In my opinion, it absolutely walks the very fine line between a genuine marketing tactic and co-opting a movement for media attention.
Additionally, if Gillette really wanted to elicit an emotional response, they should’ve stuck to a more human approach. The most meaningful parts of the ad were the man who broke up a fight by making the opposing boys shake hands and the dad holding up a little girl in the mirror telling her she is strong. These are the real moments that people want to see. Personally, the actors playing out cliched scenarios didn’t quite do it for me.
But hey, if this ad was Gillette’s authentic way of saying they understand where they have messed up in the past and this is the new outlook and new version of masculinity they are going to support moving forward, then I’m all for it. But let’s start with that slogan and disaster of a women’s line. It’s safe to say that I am eager to see if Gillette will be following through with this new narrative.