When Gillette failed its tribes


What was the purpose behind Gillette’s recent video? I felt it was a takedown on toxic masculinity, a kiss up to the Me Too movement and an attempt to take sides and get invited into a national conversation.

Why did Gillette need a video to stir controversy, gauge metrics and have people forget the message in a few days? Gillette’s primary purpose is to make real good blades and thwart attempts by Harry’s and Dollar General from eroding its market share. Why did Gillette do this self-inflicting exercise? Is there a loss in brand equity?

According to Peter Horst in his book, “Marketing in the fake news era,” more and more companies are trying not to stand in the sidelines. Instead, they want to take a stand on issues. Perhaps Gillette felt that shying away from toxic masculinity and embracing the Me Too movement with an anti-bullying social message could help it improve its image among men. Unfortunately, Gillette didn’t analyze if there was any social need for it to join this conversation.

I believe Gillette misjudged several subcultures that exist under a diverse tribe called men in the US. The company chose a few personas hoping they would help it convey the message better and sadly got a lot of backlash but earned great viewership.

In an era of fake news, before a business takes sides, they should clearly ask if they need to be in that space. For one who makes blades, it might be better to stick to making better blades instead of sending out patronizing social media messages.

After all, how long does a shave last?

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