You may recall that Gillette, Proctor & Gamble’s shaving brand, made some noise earlier this year when they ran a web ad about “toxic masculinity” that went viral in much the same way that, say, influenza goes viral every winter.
Sure, it gets decent distribution, but not a whole lot of people like it.
The ad featured a lot of ham-fisted scripted situations combined with some archival footage of sexism from yesteryear. “Is this the best a man can get?” the ad asks. “We believe in the best in men. To say the right thing, to act the right way. … The boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”
Hey, “The Best a Man Can Get” is Gillette’s tagline. See what they did there? That’s just brilliant. The brand further cemented their woke credibility with a May advertisement that featured a father teaching his transgender progeny to shave.
Needless to say, Gillette users stopped bullying people overnight.
They all started using the hashtag #ally and were all chanting “Equal pay! Equal pay!” as the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won the World Cup last month. Schick users, meanwhile, continued to be retrograde, misogynist degenerates.
Actually, while I haven’t done any studies on this, I’m pretty sure none of this happened.
Maybe Gillette users did embrace the unbearable wokeness of being while users of other, less-enlightened brands were more likely to encourage their kids to beat up their misfit classmates. Who knows? That being said, I have no evidence of any of that happening and you don’t either.
What I do have evidence of is the fact that Gillette’s parent company, Proctor & Gamble, took a $5 billion hit last quarter, according to the Washington Examiner.
Well, surely Gillette didn’t have a whole lot to do with this.
After all, they’re just one part of a massive conglomerate, and — oh, wait, no, Gillette took an $8 billion cash write-down. They’ve also seen three consecutive years of market share loss.
If you think that fazes Gillette CEO Gary Coombe, well, he certainly doesn’t show it.
In an interview with Marketing Week, Coombe said that whatever the virtue-signaling advertisements cost them, they were a “price worth paying” to get millennial dollars.
“It was pretty stark: we were losing share, we were losing awareness and penetration, and something had to be done,” Coombe said.
Apparently, the company was slowly hemorrhaging market share to companies like Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club among the younger generation. So, they decided to “take a chance in an emotionally charged way.”
Coombe said he wasn’t prepared for the “intense” negative response the ads generated. He added that what eventually made it out there was “less provocative” than what they had originally come up with.
I’m trying to imagine what exactly they had planned here that was more provocative and I’m drawing a blank. I originally came up with “Drag Queen Shaving Hour,” but that didn’t demonstrate enough abject scorn for Gillette’s current customers.
Maybe the commercials were just like six minutes of Chris Hayes screaming at the camera interspersed with footage from the Women’s March. I don’t know.
“I don’t enjoy that some people were offended by the film and upset at the brand as a consequence. That’s not nice and goes against every ounce of training I’ve had in this industry over a third of a century,” Coombe said.
“But I am absolutely of the view now that for the majority of people to fall more deeply in love with today’s brands you have to risk upsetting a small minority and that’s what we’ve done.”
If this was a business decision, fair enough. However, when Coombe told Marketing Week that Gillette’s relevance was “gently slipping away for [this] generation” due to competition from Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club, he seemed to inadvertently illustrate why Gillette is in such a mess.
“The worst thing during through that period was, we also lost connection with the millennial generation,” Coombe said. “Gillette quickly became the brand of the millennial generation’s dads.”
Was that because Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club were taking out ads against “toxic masculinity” or about teaching your trans kid to shave?
No. In fact, Dollar Shave Club has advertised on Ben Shapiro’s podcast, a show which tends to have an, um, different view of this whole matter.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 15, 2019
The difference is simple: Their products are delivered to your door. I know this may surprise you about us millennials, but most of us lead pretty busy lives. The minority that don’t, I’ve also found, are terminally lazy.
Either way, razors delivered to our door — preferably on a schedule so we don’t have to remember to pick them up at the store or keep on scraping a hyper-dull blade across our faces — is a pretty awesome concept. I prefer Harry’s.
Do I care if they’re woke? I’m far more conservative than most of those in my generation, but if they were conspicuously liberal I’d be irked but also remember they make a decent product that I don’t have to waste time going out to buy.
Let’s assume that I were hyper-woke, though, and that I were a Dollar Shave Club user.
Gillette’s commercial about “toxic masculinity” comes out. Do I change razors because they don’t like toxic men? Do they deliver to my house? No? Oh. Never mind, then.
Coombe and his retinue have such an embarrassingly bad grasp on what will get them points with the millennial generation they’ve basically tried to make their brand cool with liberal talking points.
This is the men’s facial care version of Poochie the Dog from “The Simpsons.”
And, as it so happens, the Poochie the Dog razor-selling strategy has alienated plenty of customers — not just those “millennial generation’s dads” Coombe seems to have utter contempt for, but also plenty in the millennial generation who think their loyalty can be bought off with a sop to what aged liberals like Coombe assume their politics to be.
I hope that the Gillette CEO thought this was a “price worth paying.”
Because, trust me, there are more invoices on the way.
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