Gillette’s closest shave yet?

Iconic men’s shaving brand, Gillette, made a bold move this month with a new ad campaign. Ditching their equally iconic tagline, the ‘best a man can get’, Gillette are distancing themselves from the controversial ‘toxic masculinity’ culture. The new Gillette man is the ‘best man he can be’.

You might think that an ad promoting respect to women, and each other would be hard to criticise. However, is it a moral high ground that one of the most alpha male brands in the marketplace can preach from? With the rise of the Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s and the other millennial-orientated shaving brands gaining ground, a strategic shift in Gillette’s positioning was needed. Perhaps an overhaul of ‘the best a man can get’ was overdue. Was this overhaul delivered appropriately and effectively?

Reach

The BBC reported that the ad was watched more than 2 million times on YouTube within just 48 hours. Campaign Live reports that nearly 40% of women reacted negatively to the ad. On social media, men are taking great offence too, trying to send #boycottgillette viral. It may be splitting opinion but it is reaching a huge audience and rapidly. When was the last time a Gillette ad really caught attention online?

So, does Gillette have enough brand equity to ride out the storm, for the longer term gain of a brand with more substance? Can you actively promote a rather shallow and primarily aesthetic aspiration in men for decades, and switch it up in one campaign? Without alienating your existing market, and engage a new one? It was a bold move, and despite the reported controversial public reception, one we think has paid off.

Online Opinion Poll findings

SurveyGoo conducted an online opinion poll with 2000 members of the general public. The poll explored how they really feel about Gillette and the ad.

The demographic with the best recall of the ad, were 18-34 years. Of that age group, it was mostly male Londoners. An overwhelming 85% of this demographic, actually liked the advert. In fact only 10% of people surveyed felt strongly that the advert offended them.

As you might expect, younger audiences discovered the ad online, but the majority of our survey panel (69%) discovered the ad more traditionally, via their TV. So despite the media reporting a wealth of emotive responses across social media, it appears the bigger audience was accessing the ad on TV.

Interestingly, 58% of our panel felt that Gillette should run advertising campaigns that highlight issues such as men’s behaviour, or other social issues. This is a critical finding, endorsing Gillette’s decision to move away from the visage of the perfect looking, alpha male to a more relatable model of men. In our digital world, we have almost unrestricted access to the brands we’re interested in. We expect them to have a good ethos and personality, alongside a great product. This idea of substance and adding depth to the brand would be difficult to insert into the historic Gillette ads.

Regarding the wider comments being made in the press about toxic masculinity, and Gillette’s position on the topic. Awareness of the term is really quite limited to those aged between 18 and 34 years, and even then only 28% of people surveyed, had heard of the term. This does suggest that the risk of toxic masculinity labels damaging their brand is quite limited.

Impact

When asked whether the ad would make our panel more or less likely to purchase Gillette ads in the future, 63% felt completely indifferent! Of those that were existing Gillette users, only 8% responded that the ad would make them less likely to buy Gillette going forwards. Not entirely the widespread boycott we are being led to believe!

In conclusion, aligning with the #MeToo movement was never going to be plain sailing. Wading in as a hugely successful alpha male brand was brave. However, the hardest shift has now been accomplished. Gillette can now use their huge platform and resource to refine their messaging. Gillette is reinventing itself and despite some social media controversy, remains a household name. This campaign has increased Gillette’s exposure dramatically. This momentum will enable them to begin communicating with men in a much more relevant and engaging way.

About this Survey

The research was carried out by Surveygoo, which conducted an online opinion poll 2,000 respondents across the UK. The sample of adults was randomly selected from our survey panel and weighted to be representative of the UK population for age, gender and region. The margin of error, which measures sampling variability at the country level was +/- 2.2% at 95% confidence limit. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The research was conducted between 21st and 24th January 2019.

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