It is with a tinge of jealousy I write this.
It's very good.
I wish I'd made it.
I congratulate the agency and especially the clients at P&G who green-lit it.
That said, I sadly worry that it won't become the pioneering new direction that Gillette so badly needs.
Gillette has been arguably the most benignly
misogynistic advertiser in the world for the past 50 years. Generally
their campaigns (when stripped of the CGI close up bollocks of the inner
workings of a razor) all basically revolve around the premise: you
shave...you get the girl. That's all. Well, that and "ooh look, this
sportsman uses Gillette...you too can be cool like him". Women in the
typical Gillette spot appear as nothing more than smooth-face-stroking
objects. Minor sops to 'new age men' usually only stretch to wanky,
soft-focus images of clean-shaven bellends gently clutching a tiny,
hairless baby to their (also) hairless chests. The brand's advertising
has always been lazy, dumbed down, lowest common denominator stuff that
is both insulting to the intelligence of men and somewhat belittling to
women (not that anyone pays it much attention, anyway).
the reason Gillette's advertising has been so tragically terrible down
the years, is because of P&G's general lack of balls. They are
addicted to research. (Whilst rumours continue that this may be
changing), historically nothing of significance comes out of the ad
factory for any of their brands unless it has first passed pretesting -
an expensive, entirely artificial and in my opinion utterly egregious
attempt at trying to establish whether an ad will "sell", by first
asking a huge number of dumb "consumers" what they think of it in
P&G brands have
never had the courage of their convictions. Not really. Not in, say,
the way Dove authentically grasped the female empowerment nettle.
P&G brands never show the fuck-you-if-you-don't-like-us leadership
of a Nike. They eschew the less-is-more approach of an Apple. Those
brief glimmers of hope such as the Old Spice rebirth, are black swans.
Old Spice was dying. It was revived by a sublime advertising campaign.
And once healthy, it again succumbed to the evil machinations of
P&G marketing "best practice".
Gillette, they make blancmange: garishly lit 'supermarkety' ads, crammed
with irrelevant, selly bullshit. The vast majority of their ads show
men shaving...despite the fact that most men already know how to do
that. The brand bangs on about being "The best a man can get" - a solid
enough and memorable tagline that has evolved to become insipid,
wallpapery drivel because it has never truly been allowed to breathe and
mean something relevant.
This is a brand that should know better.
to a billion men use Gillette every day. During my time working on
it, we banged our heads against walls trying to get our client to let it
modernize and stand for something. Bring something extra to the
bunfight. Inspire men to greatness...
that sort of thing...
I got fired.
And now this...
first thing to say is (and I admit I am somewhat guessing here) I don't
believe this is anything more than a strictly tactical flash in the
pan. Although it has a full programme built in behind it (a rather
vague $3m committed to charities designed to help men become better role
models); it is nevertheless unlikely to mark any radical departure in
the day-to-day way this brand talks to men going forward.
the Super Bowl just around the corner, the work feels suspiciously like
something that also has one eye on that particular shop window.
Clients in general tend to relax the rules a bit in an effort to
produce something standout for game-day and this film has the whiff of
that off it. (Nothing wrong with this btw).
the issue is that nearly all "Super Bowl work" wouldn't stand a
snowball's chance in hell of getting past any sort of rigorous
pretesting. For example, most Gillette ads that don't show men shaving,
tend to fail the pretest. This new work wouldn't have passed either.
My gut tells me that in the week after the Kansas City Chiefs (another
guess) become "World" Champions, Gillette will revert to type with its
advertising messaging and this thing will tip away in the background as a
bit of icing on their communications cake. And I believe that would be
a huge mistake.
Put simply, the work is great because it takes a position.
Gillette has never been brave enough to do that.
It's terrified of causing conflict.
Alienating potential customers.
Already, in the first days of its virality, it has caused an absolute shit-storm.
Many more 'dislikes' than 'likes'.
Fuckwits like Piers Morgan and Ricky Gervais are having a pop and swearing a boycott.
We hear it is "belittling" to men.
"Not all men" are like this.
#GetWokeGoBroke is trending on twitter.
And the trouble doesn't end there, folks.
on the rabid side of feminism are losing their dungarees claiming it
has hijacked the #metoo movement and is yet another example of the
patriarchy at work, trying to put men front and centre of a thing owned
by women (!?)
Both sides are also doing there narr-narr over the fact that the film was directed by a woman.
This is the direction our outrage-driven society is currently moving.
You are kinda damned if you do...and damned if you don't.
online reaction is likely to send P&G (certainly the company that I
knew) into a tail-spin. There are probably swathes of hand-wringing
marketeers already running scared in Boston. Petrified at what they
consider to be a misstep.
It's too controversial.
It's too provocative.
yet to me this is precisely THE breakthrough Gillette has been crying
out for, for decades. The absolutely correct course of action is to
lean in and stick with it.
Make the film the very centerpiece for the brand going forward.
present and own an interpretation of what it means to be a "Best Man"
in 2019 and beyond. Become a brand that is a genuinely inspirational
beacon for young boys.
No man who is sound,
decent, honourable, comfortable in his sexuality, utterly respectful of
women and supportive of the movement they have so heroically driven this
past several years would have any issue whatsoever with this
The men that are howling right now
are not real men. They are the incels...those that would have Trump or
Petersen as their King. Men who are at best weak and fragile, insincere
and mean-spirited and at worst predatory and somewhat sinister in how
they interact with women.
Who wants them?
Most of them probably can't grow facial hair anyway...
It's time to do the right thing, Gillette.
Boyle (right) is the host of the podcast A Pint With Seaniebee. Six
years ago, he was the global head of strategy for Gillette at BBDO (New
York). He has written this article exclusively for Campaign Brief.