If you haven’t heard, Gillette, in an effort to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their “Best a Man Can Get” campaign, relaunched it as “Best a Man Can Be“. And as you guessed, outrage ensued.
Some men felt they were being reprimanded and took to social media to express their displeasure. Others felt the ad missed the mark. I am in that camp. Of course, there are people who felt it landed well and celebrated the good guys, the men who represent positive masculinity. And let’s not forget about the people pissed off about the pink tax. I’ll get to that later.
About the Ad
In theory, when a man shaves in the morning, they have a chance to look in the mirror and reflect on who they are. This is when they have the opportunity to look at themselves as role models, fathers, husbands, sons. The ad was designed to be eye-opening and showcase men doing the right thing in a Cyberbullying, Sexual-Harassing, Un-PC World. It was meant to be an example of who men can and should be.
One of my “good guy” friends and I kicked this around. He liked the ad and responded well to it because he’s a good guy. The ad wasn’t going to change that or impact his behavior, he’s already trying to make a positive difference. He told me about teaching his teenaged son and his friends about being a good guy. In conveying his message to the young humans he was seeing to influence, he made practical
But it’s not about them, right? It’s about others. Well, since you asked…this is basic sales and marketing. It’s the WIIFM (What Is In It For Me). This is features and benefits communications taught in entry-level marketing classes. My friend, who is a professional salesman, understands this. Gillette seems to have forgotten this.
My understanding is that the ad was created by a woman. Great, I believe in women making a difference in the world (I’m one of them). Except, this particular message was directed specifically at men. Yes, of course, men have been creating marketing messages for women for years. We’ve all seen those realistic tampon commercials designed by men depicting menstruating women running carefree through fields of flowers. This
A Look at The Company
Gillette is owned by Proctor & Gamble. They are a Fortune 500 company with
So what about Gillette’s “pink tax” or the practice of charging higher prices on women’s products over
I want to also mention that the Best a Man Can Be campaign was accompanied by a $3 million dollar investment in developing men including a partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Putting their money where their mouth is. Good job.
Now let’s get back to discussing communication.
Where the Ad Went Wrong
The ad was simply not persuasive. It did not show a direct benefit to its audience for doing the right thing. It did not use relatable scenarios. It didn’t evoke emotion. It blended caricature with unrealistic scenarios in a way that appeared amateurish. It showcased bullying, #MeToo
But you know who is? People like my good guy friend. Because he’s a dude. He gets it. He understands what it’s like to suddenly feel ashamed at being attracted to a woman in 2019 for fear of being accused of evil. He understands the hormones that drive male behavior around women and their male peers. He knows how to respect women, how to handle disputes and how to be honorable. And he knows how men and boys think from a biological standpoint (not because he’s an expert, but because he’s one of them). He knows that when he spoke to his son that he heard him and understood the consequences of actions. He doesn’t work at
Do I think that corporations should take a proactive approach in shaping society for the better. Absolutely. What went wrong here was having the wrong messenger. This was a communication and message problem, not a fundamental misstep in role. Do I realize that Gillette is a for-profit brand and this was a strategy to promote themselves? Yup. But I ask you, is making money while being socially conscious a bad thing? I happen to like it.
So P&G, was this the best an ad can get? Not at all. Congratulations on trying to make a difference. I applaud you. It’s unfortunate that you missed an opportunity to make a difference and instead caused outrage. The truth is, the people who should be outraged are your executive team who paid what I can only assume is a shit ton of money for a crappy ad.