How Gillette Fights Toxic Masculinity

Lessons about targeting, brand belief and storydoing.

Gillette ad “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” 110s (screenshot)

Gillette ad “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” 110s (screenshot)

The ad got 11M views on Youtube in 72 hours. It also provoked men to throw their Gillette blades into the toilet. Twitter comments exploded. And literally every media outlet has discussed the new enfant terrible…

Gillette’s brand new commercial “We Believe” attacks bullying and sexism in times of the #MeToo era. It ironically raises the question “Is this the best a man can get?” — which has been the brand’s tag line for exactly 30 years. The ad goes on encouraging men to hold one another accountable for their behaviors. The brand even introduces a new tag line help establish a new standard for men and boys: “The Best Men Can Be”.

Gillette Commercial “We Believe: The best Men Can Be” 110s

Undoubtedly, Gillette has created the Kabernick ad of 2019. It’s controversial, caused backfire yet also positive conversations. What has been the marketing strategy behind this masterpiece? Let’s take a 3 min deep dive.

1. Who is your target audience?

You probably think that Gillette runs this ad towards men. Data proves this assumption wrong. Crimson Hexagon, a data analysis platform, shows that 56% of Gillette conversions online habe been driven by men aged 35+. In contrast, the shaving discussion itself is 62% female with 75% even under 45.

Gillette Conversation are driven by men © Crimson Hexagon

Gillette Conversation are driven by men © Crimson Hexagon

For years, Gillette has targeted an audience who didn’t dominate the talk about shaving. The new ad closes this gap — with success! Women’s reactions towards the commercial have been generally positive. 51% expressed joy and 28% showed disgust towards the exposed toxic masculinity but not the ad itself.

Shaving Conversation are driven by women © Crimson Hexagon

Shaving Conversation are driven by women © Crimson Hexagon

As you know, Gillette also sells razors particularly to women through its sub brand Gillette Venus. Moreover, women are a key influence of men’s purchase decision. The new “We Believe” ad might thus aim at opening the hearts of a new female audience.

2. People don’t buy a product but a belief

Cultural shifts, such as the #MeToo movement, have affected the image of what it means to be a man. Prevailing stereotypes of a toxic masculinity are crumbling. Being at the transition of a past and a new era of masculinity, men find themselves in an identity crisis. They are seeking orientation for new standards.

Gillette wants to set these standards. According to Edelman, 64% of consumers around the world will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue. And this is what Gillette does. It sells men a belief. The belief of transformation. Of becoming a better version of oneself. An encouragement for a positive, attainable and healthy male identity.

3. Storydoing instead of storytelling

Gillette is not only talking about a new version of what it means to be a man but also investing in it. The new site TheBestManCanBe.org provides more details about the brand’s ideological mission. Gillette has also announced to donate $1M per year for the next three years to organisations that help men “achieve their personal best”. Pushing forward a social cause needs more than words but powerful actions and a strong commitment. In 2019, it’s not enough anymore to tell a story, you need to actually do it!

To sum up, Gillette’s new marketing strategy paves the way towards a new target audience. The brand doesn’t focus on product benefits but on its ideologial influence on modern culture. It functions as an identity platform by promoting aspirational beliefs. These beliefs aren’t words but actions backed up with investments.


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