There seems to be pressure on companies to be socially aware brands instead of just focusing on selling the product everyone sought their brand out for, and Gillette is the latest company to try to make itself seem like it cares.
As I wrote in more detail previously, however, Gillette wound up making the horrid decision to insult its customer base by implying that only “some men” seem to be taking a stand against the toxic masculinity that created the #MeToo movement among other epidemics men force upon society, and that men need to follow the example of what it is to be a good guy, which as it so happens, is an example Gillette is willing to set for us.
And why wouldn’t they choose to do that? It worked well for Nike, who saw a 31 percent increase in product sales after making Colin Kaepernick the face of their campaign. I’ll even admit that I would have bet on Nike getting woke and going broke, but clearly, Nike knew their audience and took a gamble that paid off with billions of dollars in revenue.
P&G, who owns the Gillette brand, decided they wanted to roll the dice too. It’s likely they did some market research, took polls, and plotted a course of action. Whatever numbers they came up with told them that launching an ad campaign heavily laden with social justice buzzwords and perspectives would pay off.
The problem here is that while Nike received backlash, the people more likely to buy Nike were on board with Kaepernick and the message that accompanied him. The ad video that Nike released is seven-to-one in the likes vs dislikes on YouTube, proving that it hit its demographic squarely.
Gillette is not fairing half as well. As of this writing, the campaign’s “short film” currently has over 713k worth of dislikes to 311k likes.
The campaigns give off different feelings as well. Nike’s seemed more positive whereas Gillette’s was alienating as was highlighted by Josh Barro at New York Magazine.
“Nike’s message to customers is uplifting rather than accusatory. It doesn’t urge them to interrogate their roles in societal structures that may cause oppression, let alone the roles played by corporations like Nike. It skips past that, looking toward a solution rather than a problem. The Gillette campaign, by comparison, is a downer,” wrote Barro.
Gillette was trying to mimic Nike, yet it fell into the same trap another brand who attempted to become “woke” tripped into.
After the Parkland shooting, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that it would discontinue its sale of AR-15 rifles, and forbid gun sales to anyone younger than 21. In truth, the move from Dick’s was more signal that substance. They hadn’t sold AR-15’s in their main stores in years, and it wasn’t exactly making up a large portion of their sales in the stores that did.
Furthermore, the CEO of Dick’s took to the Washington Post to put the onus for school shootings on guns instead of on the real problem at hand, which was the failure of Broward County authorities to do their jobs from the administration level on down.
At the end of the day, Dick’s attempted to ride a wave of social sentiment and ended up crashing with a stock dip of 7.3 percent in December. The brand actually acknowledges that this was a result of their pro-gun control stance, and a complete misread of the social landscape. Needless to say, stockholders weren’t the happiest.
Gillette may have gotten a reading from their market studies that told them this kind of social stance taking would pay off if they marketed it in a specific way. Women seem to be taking far more kindly to the ad than men are, and perhaps they are banking on the fact that women do the vast majority of the shopping in the home. Perhaps they’re hoping that wives and girlfriends would choose Gillette razors for their significant others.
If that’s the case, then perhaps Gillette won’t see too much in the way of harm to sales.
But right now, clues point to the fact Gillette’s research wasn’t as thorough as it should have been, and the message is backfiring badly. They’ve cast shade on the people who use their product, and made it seem like men have some work to do on themselves as opposed to lifting them up.
Time will tell, but it would seem like Gillette is going to be one more example of the “get woke, go broke” principle.