The Best Men Can Be?

By Dan Appleby, Managing Director
16/01/2019

I have two young sons (aged six and three). They’re my world, and as important as my job at DC is, the most crucial thing I’ll do in life is help those little boys develop into the best men they can be.

Let me be clear, there’s nothing in the new Gillette ad I disagree with. I want my boys to grow up respecting and valuing women as equals. I want them to grow up believing in a different standard of what it means to be a man than perhaps existed when I was growing up. And when that happens (I’m pleased to report that they’re well on their way to being very special people indeed), the world will be a better place.

But, I think the new ad from Gillette is a complete and utter load of brand-purpose-driven bollocks. This is despite me agreeing with much of what their ad says about masculinity. I just don’t think it’s a very good marketing strategy.

I don’t think this feels true for them as a brand, they don’t back it up with actions and I simply don’t believe them. Gillette’s real purpose is to make and sell razors. How they do that (products, pricing, messaging) is another matter. And when you consider that in the past, the same brand has positioned its female range in a way that reinforced damaging gender stereotypes, some of the language in the new campaign just doesn’t ring true. Oh, and razor cartridges cost on average 11 per cent more for women than men, despite razors being virtually the same for both sexes.

Gillette Sexist Campaigns

I’m sure they set out with good intentions, and they’ve made smart decisions when it comes to the production of this ad (it’s directed by Kim Gehrig of Viva la Vulva and #ThisGirlCan fame).

But I can’t see this ad as anything other than an ill-judged marketing strategy. The only reason it exists is to address some of the challenges Gillette faces as a brand.

Their share of the men’s razor business has dropped over six years straight. It fell from 70% in 2010, to 59% in 2015 and down to 54% in 2016. And that market share continues to be attacked by the likes of Harry’s, Dollar Shave Club and Cornerstone, who offer a similar shaving experience at a fraction the price.

So let’s not pretend that the reason this campaign exists is not to sell more razors.

If Gillette really believed this was part of their purpose, perhaps they should set those standards as a brand; by advertising to, and representing, women in a better way. And by charging equally and fairly for their products, rather than simply spending a lot of money on a campaign which smacks of ‘do as we say, not as we do’.

So I’m sorry Gillette, I just don’t buy it, either the brand-purpose-driven bollocks, or your hugely expensive, but in-no-way superior products.

Gillette might well believe that (some) men need to be better, but perhaps they should get their own house in order first, and set a standard for us to follow.

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