Drawing their inspiration from the #MeToo movement, Proctor & Gamble has produced a new ad for Gillette razors entitled “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be.”
It is narrated by a soft-spoken man who begins with “Is this the best a man can get?” This is a reference to the company’s former slogan which made its debut during the 1989 Super Bowl game.
The narrator speaks slowly and calmly. In between his brief remarks, we are shown scenes of men bullying and sexually harassing women. Men excusing themselves repeating, “Boys will be boys.”
Then, the tone changes. A newswoman reports on the #MeToo movement. Men begin to act honorably. Finally, men become enlightened.
“Is it?…We can’t hide from it…It’s been going on far too long…We can’t laugh it off…Making the same old excuses…But something finally changed…And there will be no going back…Because we, we believe in the best in men…To say the right thing…To act the right way…Some already are…In ways big and small…But some is not enough…Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”
Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette brand director for North America, discussed the ad with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal:
This is an important conversation happening, and as a company that encourages men to be their best, we feel compelled to both address it and take action of our own. We are taking a realistic look at what’s happening today, and aiming to inspire change by acknowledging that the old saying ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ is not an excuse. We want to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and hope all the men we serve will come along on that journey to find our ‘best’ together.
Well, the ad hasn’t exactly been well-received. The company has been accused of virtue signaling. Consumers have called the ad “inauthentic,” “awkward” and “lame.” One said it’s “manufactured PC BS.” Another said “the company is trying to leverage a social message to get more eyeballs to their brandname.” Others were quite angry.
Especially, this man! He tweeted that he would throw every P&G product he owned in the trash. “Never buying any of them again until everyone involved in this ad from top to bottom is fired and the company issues a public apology.”
I am taking action. I'm researching every product made by Proctor & Gamble, throwing any I have in the trash, and never buying any of them again until everyone involved in this ad from top to bottom is fired and the company issues a public apology.
— Joe (@JoeS3678) January 14, 2019
Dean Crutchfield, CEO of branding firm Crutchfield + Partners, offered his take on the ad.
It’s a risky move. On one hand, it creates a credible, believable, and upfront conversation that takes brutal honesty and tough decisions.
Gillette needs to appeal to millennials who care about what companies stand for. There’s a demand for this, for purpose, for brands to be tackling tough issues in the moment.
But the ad could backfire and alienate Gillette’s base. Does the customer want to be told they’re a naughty boy? Are you asking too much of your consumer to be having this conversation with them?
Brands diving into charged social issues risk turning off customers who don’t agree with their stance, don’t believe it is authentic or consider it poorly handled.
It’s about execution, sometimes brands stretch themselves too fine and they snap.
At the very least, P&G has certainly captured the public’s attention.