Gillette Reveals a Marketing Strategy That Refutes Its Own Previous Branding
In much of the brand messaging taking on societal issues, marketers were establishing positions that had been absent before. In Gillette’s new marketing strategy, its viral commercial that takes on “toxic masculinity” is actually a mea culpa for its own previous branding.
That message is not just making Gillette relevant again to consumers who had migrated to direct brands, like Harry's Razor Club, but is angering the brand’s original base that had identified with its “Gillette, the Best a Man Can Get” concept. Once accepted societal norms hadn’t been viewed as taking a side on a societal issue. But after the #metoo movement revealed what those accepted beliefs did to society, suddenly Gillette had a way of differentiating its brand in a marketplace where direct brands were pulling away market share due to their offers of better convenience and price.
A previous commercial shows then-accepted masculine roles:
As Jeanette McMurty notes is valuable for a brand, Gillette is giving consumers a way to do good by buying its razors. Specifically, the brand is “donating $1 million per year for the next three years to nonprofit organizations executing programs in the United States designed to help men of all ages achieve their personal ‘best.’ ”
With that message, Gillette could undercut the competition.
“By 2024, the global male grooming market is estimated to be worth about $29.14 billion,” says Statista.
That hairy situation, alone, is a reason to remain relevant in this market.
Statista further says that the market is, indeed, moving toward a more well-rounded view of men that Gillette’s commercial reflects:
“There has been a pivotal shift in male pampering culture during the last decade. Men’s toiletries used to consist of shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream and not much else. But from London to New York to São Paulo, bathroom cabinets of middle-class homes now brim with moisturizers, facial cleansers, eye serums, bronzers, concealers, anti-agers and even mud masks — all designed specifically for men.”
CEOs and CMOs looking for marketing strategies that differentiate them from their competitors may not have thought of differentiating their brands from their own previous branding in such a 180-degree way. (After all, many marketers did take stands on societal issues and many did rebrand.)
But it was a directive from boss Marc S. Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble. In a sign that it takes time for brands to change, even when they’re living within the organization helmed by this marketing thought leader who made the statement — on Oct. 1, 2018, at Advertising Week New York — that brands need to take stands on societal issues, the below announcement didn’t come until Jan. 14, 2019.
“Gillette believes in the best in men,” said Gary Coombe, president of P&G Global Grooming. “By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behavior, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal ‘best,’ we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come.”
The next question is “How long will it take consumers to change?” Quite a few men who were previous supporters of the brand were incensed by the campaign, and they took to social media to show themselves tossing Gillette razors in toilets, garbage cans and elsewhere.
Here are angry consumers:
— Kash Jackson (@KashJackson2018) January 17, 2019
See Gillette's campaign against toxic masculinity is going well. pic.twitter.com/xfpe10uoUy
— Josh (@Hikari_Yamii) January 17, 2019
Gillette: men should be better and not objectify women.
Also Gillette: pic.twitter.com/AZRtbNGZqf
— Eric J Wishart (@EricJWishart) January 17, 2019
Here are fans of Gillette's new message:
Since this won't stop coming up on my feed...
Why is there such a negative buzz around this? This style of ad is not new in the beauty industry (see @Dove).@Gillette has handled this fairly well, and it's about time a male-focused brand spoke up about #ToxicMasculinity https://t.co/DtT7vy6b1j
— Josh Stacey (@JDcymru) January 17, 2019
💙 great! I'm glad all of these companies are good to use! pic.twitter.com/ywaZDuz7uU
— Pink Lasagna 🐦🐥🐤🐾🐊🐛🐟 (@ToriLars) January 16, 2019
— jay (@fantasticjay2) January 15, 2019
So is it a smart move for CEOs and CMOs to reverse course on their own branding?
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.