KEO weighs in on the Gillette Ad and encourage you to question the target audience.

Is this really the best an Ad can get?

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You have a stain on your shirt

Depending on who you talk to, the latest Gillette advertisement is either brand suicide or marketing genius. Time will only tell but, as a marketing strategist, I can tell you this ad was intentionally designed and targeted to appeal to a distinct audience (and it may not be who you think!).

In contrast to previous campaigns, Gillette has produced an emotionally fuelled advert that calls out toxic masculinity, sexual harassment, and bullying and encourages men to change the conversation around what it means to be a man today.

For over thirty years, the Gillette man has been a well-shaved, muscular, chisel-jawed bloke with coiffed hair and a hit with the ladies but, fashions change. Enter hipster beards, stubbled chins, and man buns along with declining tolerance for sexism in advertising and invigorated social consciousness thanks to campaigns like #metoo, #timesup and #enditnow.

Marketers have long known people don’t buy products, they buy brands. For a brand to appeal to an audience on more than just price, they must create an emotional connection, align with intrinsic values, and appeal to their aspirational sense of self. Gillette is shedding their former image, quite literally with the ad’s opening scene depicting a group of bullying teenagers tearing through a Gillette billboard, to stay relevant and speak to a new audience, Generation Z and millennial's.

History Professor Lisa Jacobson of Santa Barbara University has observed young men, specifically Generation Z and millennial's, those born between 1980 and 2012, are emerging as those most embracive of changing gender stereotypes, most prepared to call out toxic masculinity, and drive conversation around new social norms.

Independent research group, Persky reinforced Professor Jacobson’s observations when conducting a study on 3,500 millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 to gauge their reaction to the Gillette ad. Analysts discovered 77% of males and 84% of females were not offended by the ad, but actually felt positive about the message. This same study also discovered general perceptions of Gillette were bettered, with 37% of male millennials and 51% of female millennials more positive of Gillette after watching the ad. 

The target market also extends to women, specifically the mums of those same teenagers and young men. Whilst changing gender roles are altering traditional household shopping patterns, 72% of women are still the primary purchasers of household groceries. With females buying razors for partners, sons, and loved ones, let alone themselves, it is little wonder Gillette’s latest offering is emotionally stimulating and essentially a message of support to females everywhere conveying ‘we stand with you’. 

Whilst talks of boycotts and photos of razors in toilet bowls continue to fuel news feed chatter, many of those outraged at the ad's attack on toxic masculinity, not to be confused with normal and healthy masculinity, are unlikely Gillette’s primary target market. Consideration for who exactly this brand is talking to starts to reveal a much bigger picture and motive behind the We Believe campaign. 

It is the campaigns with little to no thought of their marketing strategy, target market, differentiation, or consideration for their future that are the most forgettable. Those brands don’t go viral, they don’t garner 64 million views across social platforms, more than 1.1 million engagements on Facebook, and a global discourse which lends itself to one of the most positive conversations this generation has ever generated. From “the best a man a can get” to “the best a brand can get” - kudos Gillette.