When household shaving brand Gillette launched their latest ad campaign focused on shifting their tagline “The best a man can get” to “The best men can be,” they received both overwhelming support and abuse, along with a significant amount of earned media coverage and virality. Without taking into consideration socio-political stances or beliefs on toxic masculinity or even feminism, this ad can be easily called a massive success.
First, the Grey New York-created ad is topical and trendy. In the age of a nonstop barrage of political discussions across any social media platform, almost everyone, anywhere has at least heard of the #MeToo movement, the terms “toxic masculinity” and “boys will be boys,” and likely has engaged in some sort of discussion on the topics. Naturally, these subjects create a potential minefield for brands to navigate, and an especially tall challenge for creatives dealing with messaging and context. That being said, there are also a lot of spoils for a victor to claim if handled and executed in just the right way — especially if that message comes off earnest and easy to get behind. As a bit of social commentary, you naturally had people of all backgrounds and political views weigh in on the subject — which both created a wider distribution network across social media for the ad to be seen, as well as further demonstrated the need for an ad like this. In this light, you now have Gillette more in the forefront, more top-of-mind than even Dollar Shave’s viral “Our Blades Are F**king Great” ad hit.
Most importantly, the ad shows us that Procter and Gamble are ready to double down and decide exactly which customers they want. Gillette knows they’re being disrupted by brands like Henry’s, and subscription-based models like Dollar Shave Club. They have to learn and grow as a brand, even if that means shaving off a segment of their more auxiliary customers who can’t get on board with the message that Gillette believe resonates with the future of the customers.
The ads launched with TheBestMenCanBe.org, a new brand site that will more cohesively explain Gillette’s new stance, which will be backed by a commitment to donate at least $1 million annually the next three years to organizations designed to help men of all ages “achieve their personal best,” according to the brand.
Make no mistake about it, the P&G brand certainly isn’t naive when it comes to mixing social commentary and commerce, but the display seems to signify that the brand is still very aware that its ideal target demographic is youth-leaning, which, when targeted correctly, provides a long customer lifecycle, since youth of all genders can use their products in one way or another.