BBC Interview on Gillette’s #MeToo Advertising
January 15, 2019
The BBC are interviewing me tomorrow about the Gillette video ads. People often ask how I prepare for these interviews, so here is my thinking for this interview.
But first here’s the Gillette Video Ad on Youtube.
Interview Preparation: Gathering Background
Ads don’t suddenly appear. There’s always a back story. Here’s some of my background research data.
- Gillette used to focus on bold, sexy confident men that were successful and confident.
- Since the 1990s Gillette have lost market share to Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s, Schick and Art of Shaving
- Gillette produce women’s razors as well .. so don’t forget the impact these ads have on women. Were the ads designed to influence women more than men?
- Gillette aren’t strong in shaving products other than razors.
- Proctor and Gamble (who own Gillette) spent $7b on Made in the USA ads in 2017. Backlash against Gillette as their razors were invented in Boston but now mainly made overseas.
- Tagline is now “made and sold around the world”
- “The best a man can get” has been a Gillette tagline for a long time, about 30 years .. this advert builds on that.
- Gillette say, “From today on, we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette. In the ads we run, the images we publish to social media, the words we choose, and so much more.”
My Initial Thoughts on the Ad
- Ad apes Iceland ads in going for an issue rather than selling a product or service. Although the Iceland ad was banned it got it a huge following and enormous amounts of exposure.
- Although there’s a backlash it has got people talking … why else would I be being interviewed.
- The ad builds on the existing “the best a man can get” tag so doesn’t deviate from the original message .. but does it in a different way.
- The ad is perceived by many as having a good message but being preachy.
- The ad is perceived by some as not giving “most” men enough credit for being opposed to bullying
- Not all those that are objecting to the ad will have been Gillette customers
- In the food world people are today more concerned about provenance of the food they eat. The provenance of products and services is becoming more important top customers and is what Gillette is tapping into here
- Any company that preaches a message must be sure their house is in order. It will be interesting to see if any bullying claims are now made or if a history of harassment or bullying comes to light.
- Though their promise is about men equal salaries is an issue that could be linked to this campaign. Is Gillette squeaky clean?
- But by stating that they will, “from today actively challenge stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man”, The have put a line in the sand that they now have to deliver. If they can do that then they have made a huge stride forward and launched a challenge to every other corporation around the world.
The most negative backlash seems to come from a particular type of “masculine man” that makes comments like … “You can’t silence us Gillete”. It might be that Gillette are better off without the people that think they are being silenced by this ad.
Another on YouTube wrote .. “I want to punch a woman in the face after watching this”. Well that sort of proves Gillette are dealing with a real issue.
Not all the backlash comments will come from Gillette users .. some are just getting on the bandwagon. What we are seeing is a vociferous minority.
The question is, what are the silent majority thinking? What will they do after the furore dies down?
Bouncing Back From Disaster
I don’t think Gillette are heading for disaster but it is worth thinking about tactics if things go wrong.
When Samsung’s Galaxy 7 Note smartphone starting exploding they could have seen disaster. In fact they lost market share. But they reacted with transparency and leadership and turned the corner. OK, it wasn’t due to an ad, but the principle is the same.
Brands like Samsung can bounce back from disaster by reacting at speed with a practical, authentic and human solutions that show strong leadership with substance. All Gillette is seeing is a negative backslash from some people. This could well result in an increase in sales.
As Gillette explain, “many men find themselves at a crossroads, caught between the past and a new era of masculinity”.
The company added it has a “responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man”.
Time will tell if they’ve sensed this right.
The BBC Interview
I’ve just come off air with Kaye Adams on BBC Radio Scotland.
Three of us were interviewed over a 20 minute period. Two guys and one women.
The guys didn’t find the ad a problem but the woman got really heated about how offensive it was and how she didn’t want a large company telling her how to behave.
Interestingly she also got her facts wrong. eg. she said Gillette were not supporting charities .. they are with $3m to relevant charities over the next three years.
It just shows how little people look beyond the obvious and indicates how we need to provide linear evidence over time to further a cause or message.
You can listen to the interview at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0002179 .. it starts at 2.22.24 and lasts about 20 minutes.
For more interviews see http://www.stefandrew.com/recent-bbc-interviews
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