I’m taking a break from writing about Catalonia to put my oar in about the new Gillette ad. As someone who fervently defends equitable treatment of all people, regardless of where you were born, the colour of your skin, your religion or your gender (however you choose to describe it), I find it sad that people are attacking each other over it.
Actually I find it sadder that it is felt such an ad is necessary. But the fact is, the world is not yet free from inequitable behaviour. And let us not kid ourselves, with arguments about how women can be just as cruel, that men have not been the biggest culprits of gender-oriented mistreatment. There are countless examples, from the gender of words in some languages (or, indeed the personification in one gender or other of objects or concepts) through marriage rights in the great majority of human civilisations to the actual limitation of women’s rights that still happens in some parts of the world.
And while we have come a long way, the fact that the #metoo campaign has happened at all, let alone had such an impact, shows we are far from free of harassment – I challenge you to prove me statistically wrong that men are not more guilty of this than women.
Neither am I someone who has ever identified with the male image projected in what was conventional shaving ads, which always made me cringe.
Should I be offended by this ad? Why? Does it really imply all men are a*$#holes? Of course it doesn’t. Does it suggest women are all saints? Ditto. But it is an advert for a male shaving product, so clearly it will be focussed on men. And far from being offended, I am glad it is taking a stance and changing its tactics from old stereotypes and cheesy, brain-dead spots (who seriously admires themselves like that when shaving?!!).
That is not to say either that I rank it terribly highly as a professionally trained marketer. I do agree with some of the criticisms that it is simplistic and at times it is almost as cheesy as the old ads. I could go on.
But I also want to comment on the reaction from the business press. The Financial Times acknowledges the impact of the ad but says what is “less clear” is whether it is good for sales and the bottom line. Of course it would, it is a business paper. And in business, sales and the bottom line are the most important, right?
That, my friends, is the same kind of blinkered view that ignores everything about the situation beyond what you choose to focus on – when you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Yes, organisations need to maintain a surplus to survive, but the best way to financial sustainability is to ensure the sustainability of people and the planet first.
I personally think that, on balance, the publicity generated will win more sales than it will lose. I have seen lots of comments about throwing their Gillette’s away, but I doubt that will cause much of a dent, especially when or where alternative supplies are more difficult.
Of course, there are more environmentally-friendly alternatives, and not moving in this direction could be much more damaging long-term than a campaigning-style ad. But maybe this is symptomatic of a more fundamental shift at Gillette and its parent company, P&G. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking and its pure opportunism.
Either way, as someone who grew up with the brand, I really like the new take on the old slogan. Even if this is superficial, sometimes this leads to deeper changes.
And far better that companies step up and change – however little – than continue in old stereotypes.