Perhaps Gillette’s ad is cutting edge rather than contentious
Its a mystery why men who shave (and possibly women who do, too) would find an ad about men being their best selves ‘inappropriate’
Why are the global marketing press so upset about the much-talked-about Gillette ad? I have no idea if the man (who shaves) in the street is upset about the ad (by that I don’t mean men who shave while in the actual street, because that would be weird. I mean consumers). One would have to look at quantitative research to have an opinion on that.
These consumers may or may not be upset, I’m not sure. But what I am 100% sure about is that the global marketing press and marketing commentators are very upset about it indeed. “Grostesque”, “cynical”, “inappropriate” — these are just a few of the words used to describe this piece of work. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this kind of reaction from the chattering classes of our industry.
Why? These same groups couldn’t get enough of Nike’s Colin Kaepernick’s work. So why the ferocious backlash against a piece of work that sends a message we all agree with? Er … we do all agree with this message, don’t we?
After all, it is a fairly straightforward piece of communication arguing that sometimes we, as men, aren’t at our best and encouraging us to be the best versions of ourselves. How is that so bad? The brand even tweaked its “The best a man can get” line to “The best a man can be” in what I see as a tacit admission that Gillette feels it, too, is part of this issue and is also committing to being the best version of itself.
I’m intrigued that so many commentators are so upset. Do some of them feel offended that they, as men, are included in the general statement about toxic masculinity? Others seem to imply Gillette do not have “licence” to say this kind of thing, but how does that work? Do you have to get a learner’s licence and then pass some kind of test before you can say decent, sensible things? Or is this some kind of “anti-PC” type reaction? Do commentators feel they’ve seen enough issue-specific messaging from brands?
Most of the criticism seems to accuse Gillette of bad marketing. Which is an odd thing for commentators to have made up their minds about. Shouldn’t we let consumers and sales results decide that?
Perhaps Gillette’s strategy actually makes a lot of sense. Perhaps it is targeting younger, millennial, urban men, and also women (who buy razors too, I’ve heard), and this piece of work is designed to reach this market rather than older, whiter men.
Speaking of which, whenever you find yourself on the same side of an argument as people such as Piers Morgan, James Woods (actor and Trump supporter), and right-wing publications such as New American (which is a bit old-ish in its views), it is generally a sign that you should take a second look at the strength of your argument.
Those marketing commentators who are so outraged by Gillette’s latest offering should do exactly that.
• Davenport is an advertising executive.