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 |  Longer reads

The best a brand can be?

Gillette’s new ad, which takes aim at toxic masculinity, has opened the controversy floodgates. After all, this is a brand that has contributed to the objectification of women in the past, not to mention pushing an artificial image of the ‘ideal man’. Is this new chapter in their marketing history blatant ‘woke-washing’ or a heartfelt attempt to reinvent their business? 

The ad is on track to become one of the most hated ever. In just a week, Gillette had more than 24 million YouTube views, 1.1 million dislikes and 658,000 likes.

So why has there been such an angry backlash out there? Here’s what Sixers think.

“People object to a brand leveraging social issues to sell products – this is more a question of the times we live in. Look at the outcry around Nike using Colin Kaepernick in their campaign. It caused absolute mayhem, but the overall value of the company increased by $6billion. People can hate brands getting political as much as they like but, ultimately, when done correctly, it delivers.”

  • Laura, Planner and self-confessed hippy

“I think this ad is refreshing. It’s culturally relevant, timely, and a fantastic example of companies like Gillette (yes, the brand that for years has promoted a vision of chiseled men in towels) challenging their own advertising stereotypes and standing up for issues important not just to their customers, but to our society too.”

  • Jen, Design Director

 “I don’t feel comfortable with a brand using the #MeToo movement as a springboard to promote themselves. It feels too elevated, too big a conversation for Gillette. Had they executed it at a more personal level and focused purely on gender stereotypes, then they could have rightfully owned that space … I don’t doubt the intentions of the brand or the creatives behind it – the message is an important one. But I think brands need to tread carefully when it comes to taking on and representing big issues in the advertising space.”

  • Sally, Account Director

The good news

One argument that can’t be directed at Gillette is that they’re all talk. The brand is pledging to donate $1m a year to charitable programmes that aim to help men who need support achieve their best.

I would also add that great advertising shouldn’t please everybody. It should create an emotional response and divide opinions. If some people hate it, you’re probably doing something right. Standing up for something is a powerful way of standing out. Just don’t expect everyone to agree. 

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