Is This The Best a Brand Can Do?
Is This The Best a Brand Can Do?

Gillette weighed in on masculinity and so it must be discussed.

They made a nearly two-minute video, after all.

You’re on this site, so I assume you’ve seen it, read at least three opinion pieces on it, and lost at least a dozen social followers while sharing your opinion on it.

But if you’re just a wayward apocalypse junkie who stumbled here after reading Darren LaSorte’s (very manly) guide to prepping, here’s the video in question:

 

 

The rest of the world has breathlessly weighed in on Gillette’s message. I’m going to focus instead on America’s favorite razor company’s actions.

Does Gillette go beyond its video in meaningful ways that live up to their promise of calling out male malpractitioners and redefining modern masculinity, or does the whole message ring hollow?

The spot closes by promising, “We are taking action at thebestmencanbe.org.”

But the pale, lifeless microsite on the other end of that link offers little in the way of inspiration.

A few lines of cold copy traffic in bold but vague promises: “We pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man.”

And then, below the fold, comes the payoff: a $1 million donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

A worthy recipient, sure.

But what does this have to do with challenging stereotypes and expectations?

The best they offer is a vague and underwhelming sentence: “We will be distributing $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations executing the most interesting and impactful programs designed to help men of all ages achieve their personal best.”

 

 

It all reeks of the worst kind of corporate timidity. If you’re going to wade into controversial waters by positioning yourself as some kind of bold and visionary leader, you’d better be prepared to lead.

I’m not saying don’t donate. I’m saying don’t pretend your donation will be perceived by your customers as anything close to a worthy payoff of the provocative promise you made them.

If Gillette wanted to achieve more than a brief moment of calculated and sanitized virality, they would have committed themselves to telling difficult, untold stories about men from their perspective. Instead of a corporate and unfulfilling microsite, viewers who loved their message would have been greeted by a deep, rich and emotional environment that drew them further in and promised to add a new voice to the media landscape. Instead, they leave the hard work of achieving the change they claim to seek to others.

Unfortunately, this weak and insincere approach remains popular in corporate boardrooms across America. Gillette is only the latest in a long line of brands that provoked with a promise they never intended to make good.

Should they suffer any long-lasting damage over this high-profile gamble, it won’t be because of the people upset over the message—at least not solely. It’ll be because the people who loved their message lost faith in the brand.

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