Courageous marketing: Why I believe more companies should follow Gillette's lead

Posted by Hollie Geitner on 1/24/19 8:00 AM

 

As we head into Super Bowl LIII on February 3, some commercials are already making waves on social channels. Side note: Remember when you had to wait until the actual night of the big game to see commercials? Well, those days are long gone.

I decided to finally watch the Gillette ad (The Best Men Can Be) everyone has been talking about. If you haven’t heard about this one, maybe it’s because you’ve been busy dialing your rotary phone at home. For a laugh, check out this video of teenagers trying to figure out how to use one.

Back to Gillette … in all honesty, I hadn’t paid attention to what people were saying about their latest commercial and went in with an attitude of, “it’s an advertisement by a well-known brand that makes razors, what could be so bad?”

I suppose I wasn’t prepared for my emotional reaction that followed. No, I didn’t cry or pound my fists. I just had that “FINALLY” moment where I wanted to stand up and salute the person/team who came up with the message concept and who had the courage to put it out there. It’s not an easy or simple message to convey.

Perhaps you didn’t expect that reaction from me. Or, maybe you aren’t surprised at all. Here’s my break down on why the ad is so courageous and why we need more ads like it.

1, It’s timely and relevant.

The explanation of the campaign on Gillette’s website sums it up pretty well. As a general rule, before I make any assumptions about a company based on what others are saying, I head to their website and social channels to understand their side.

Here are a few highlights:

Thirty years ago, we launched our “The Best A Man Can Get” tagline. It’s time we acknowledge that brands, like oursgillette commercial, play a role in influencing culture. And as a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man.

In the #metoo era, in which dozens of men in prominent roles (actors, producers, politicians, newsmen, sports stars) have been accused of sexual misconduct, Gillette is brave. They’ve shown they aren’t afraid to step in and help make a change for the better because they feel it’s their duty.

For those who claim the video ad “de-masculinizes,” take a look back at some of the advertisements from only a few decades ago and how women were portrayed. Imagine how they must have felt. Such images of women and their messaging show the deep-rooted problem we have in society today, and why it’s time for companies like Gillette to do something different and meaningful. Sure, we’ve come a long way, but there is still much work to be done. Men play an integral role in this change.

2. It doesn’t aim to please everyone.

Gillette knew taking such a stand was risky from a PR standpoint, but they also weren’t doing it to please everyone – they were on a mission. Gary Coombe, president of P&G Global    Grooming, and quoted in the news release announcing the effort, has long been praised as a change maker and leader for his work in diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Real change is not possible without stepping outside of comfort zones and taking risks. Change makers seek out the difficult path and blaze the trail so others can follow. This is a good thing!

3. People buy your WHY.

A razor is a razor, right? Sure, you can add some bells and whistles, but at the end of the day, all people care about is whether or not it works, right? Wrong. As with any product or service, people have options. LOTS of options. Take a scan of the razor aisle at your nearest Target or Walmart. Want cheap? It’s there. Fancy? Yep, you got it. Sleek? Sure, you can have that too. In truth, buying decisions are based on an emotional response. According to Simon Sinek, the best leaders start with WHY – their purpose, cause or belief. Their WHY guides them when making or selling something. It’s that WHY that sets them apart from the rest of the pack. As a leader in the industry, Gillette understands this and it’s probably the very reason they can claim six of the top 10 razors on the market, based on sales.

I know some people will agree with me and perhaps many more won’t, but my goal was to point out why the video ad is smart marketing for Gillette. I believe now is the time for more companies to follow their lead. Maybe it’s not about parity in the workplace or raising young boys to be kind and empathetic men, but every company should understand and live their WHY. By doing so, they will attract the right customers – those who share their beliefs and values. As Gillette understands, no company can be all things to everyone, but they can be something very important to some.

Choose your own WHY and see where it leads. Those who follow are your people. They are your customers. They are the ones who matter.

Our StoryCrafting process uncovers a company’s capital “S” story and the reason behind why anyone would want to work for you, do business with you or partner with you. To understand why this is important, download “Tales Worth Telling: How the ageless power of stories delivers business success.”

(Image credit: Gillette)

Hollie Geitner is Vice President, Culture and Brand Ambassador at WordWrite Communications. You can get in touch with her via email at hollie.geitner@wordwritepr.com or follow her on Twitter at @JustHollieGHollie2015-5

Topics: story, public relations, Importance of your Why, storytelling

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