When brands move away from product talk – they get everyone talking

Here is my take on cause related advertising. Some would argue that if your brand shaves hair – your communication should remain in that zone. Just because most men use razors, the razor company’s communication should stay in the zone of hair, men, and quality of the shave.

Evolved marketers and ad agencies have ventured out of this comfort zone to take the communication to another level.

Cause related advertising

In January of 2019 Gillette released a campaign that included a short video showing what it meant to be “The Best Men Can Be.”

Toxic reactions to the commercial

What was meant to be a disapproval of Toxic Masculinity and a few suggestions that nudged men towards more human behavior, quickly became the reason why had a huge number of men lost their minds. That is the only way one could explain the Twitter and Youtube tirade this ad started.

You have founded the “Me Neither” movement. “I don’t use Gillette products anymore.” “Me neither!”
“Sticks and stones will break my bones but Gillette razors will never nick me again.”
But these were just some of the politer comments.
Very soon the mudslinging became vicious. Gillette was accused of using child labor in 3rd world countries and people pointed out how much more expensive the ladies razors were.
At the time of writing this, the ad had 32,869,057 views and 806 k likes and a huge 1.2 m dislikes.

Advertising makes you pause, and think – it can’t all be bad

After seeing this particular cause related ad, do you move on to the next thought, or do you pause and reflect? At odd moments of the day, does the commercial come back to you and force you to evaluate things? In my case – my reflections went something like this:
Toxic Masculinity certainly extends to all the young men who took their ‘how to behave with women’ cues from Bollywood blockbusters.
But haven’t we evolved in our thinking and isn’t toxic masculinity a problem confined to certain overzealous religious clerics and their followers? Or it may be confined to a handful of fundamentalists who refuse to let young girls wear Jeans to college and advocated early marriage. Or public figures who go on record making irresponsible statements like – ‘If you can’t prevent the rape, just sit back and enjoy it.”
Could the liberated west suffer from the same malaise? Are women screaming out for equal rights and not being heard anywhere?
Agreed, men don’t like to take instructions from a woman, but here is a perfectly decent male voice giving men guidelines of decent human behavior and they are still not willing to listen.
I then took the time to go through what Twitter had to say.

Twitter Response to the Toxic Masculinity Ad

 Twitter experienced the same backlash from men who felt threatened by this ad. But here, at least some women had joined the conversation.
Amy Wells @Absulutlyluvly put it very well:
“And just like that, a razor company launched a movement. As if it wasn’t refreshing enough to see a company take a risk to make this stance, real men start stepping up to address the backlash. #Gillette #TheBestAManCanGet”
Guiledish Camino @salemowalk commented
“The fact that the #Toxicmasculinity #Gillette commercial has nearly 3x as many dislikes as likes on YouTube painfully illustrates the need for such a commercial. #TheBestAManCanGet?”

The cause related ad that got a better response

Around the same time that Gillette released its ad, Egard, a watch company released its cause related ad. This one went down much better than the Gillette commercial had.

‘We see the good in men’ that ad proclaimed. And the men bought it. Gillette was compared unfavorably with a company that eulogized men.

‘They inspire us to be better versions of ourselves’ one fan raved.

And Michael Newton summarized it best:

No more razors for me. I shave with watches now.

But the funny thing is that this ad got only 4,894,673 views and the likes and dislikes were nowhere near the Gillette numbers. The comments were far fewer too.

Can it be that a bold cause related ad statement made by the brand is a great idea? Even if a great number of the target audience is up in arms about it? I like to imagine that the men who agreed with the Gillette ad may not have joined the conversation. But they are probably reaching out for Gillette Razors in supermarket isles, thinking of it as their contribution towards making the world a safer place for their daughters.