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Is This the Best a Brand Can Get?

Gillette has caused quite a stir this week with the web ad they released to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their slogan “the Best A Man Can Get.”

The new “The Best Men Can Be,” campaign is intended to address such negative behavior as bullying, sexism, and “male toxicity,” and to encourage men in this #MeToo era to practice more positive behavior in order to be their best. The campaign includes $1 million a year donations to organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for the next three years.

The initial ad, called “We Believe,” focuses on negative behavior among men, and then says, “ We believe in the best in men: To say the right thing, to act the right way” because “the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.” Razors and blades are barely mentioned.

It’s a daring move. Some people think it’s great. Others hate it. Still others think it’s a nice try but poorly executed. Some are comparing it to the ads Nike ran featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for the 30th anniversary of the Nike slogan, Just Do It. Those ads led to some customers boycotting Nike products, but also resulted in a 30%+ year over year increase in online sales for Nike.

It’s too soon to know whether or not this campaign will pump up Gillette’s sales. But one thing is certain: People who haven’t thought about Gillette for years (or ever) are now talking about the brand.

In this industry, the razor is usually given away to sell the blades. Once a customer has Gillette’s razor, they’re hooked—switching costs are high. But today, there are more interesting and lower-cost offerings, like Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s, aimed at younger men. Millennials likely aren’t hooked on Gillette products and probably think about Gillette as the name on that stadium in Foxboro, MA where the New England Patriots play. Until now.

One way to be heard above the noise is to do something different and a bit outrageous. Yes, you run the risk of getting cut when you shave too close. But is it better to slip away into obscurity because you’re afraid to sharpen the blade?

Linda Popky is an award-winning Silicon Valley-based strategic marketing consultant who helps organizations get heard above the noise and the author of Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing that Matters. She is also the Executive Director of the Society for the Advancement of Consulting.

Linda Popky

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