Gillette’s #MeToo Advert is Brave and Admirable, But the Follow-through is Key


As a forward-thinking male with an understandable knowledge of the shaving market, our Tom has been monitoring the fallout from Gillette’s #MeToo advert with great intrigue. Here, he offers his opinion not on the ad itself specifically, but what needs to follow in order for Gillette to really set a standard and ensure that men are the best a man can be.

It’s made the news almost everywhere over the past week for an approach which is attempting to add a contemporary, social-conscious layer to an established brand image. Agree or disagree, Gillette has us talking and the old marketing slogan of “all publicity is good publicity” might ring true for Procter and Gamble in the wake of its latest commercial – which seeks to shift brand perception and coerce its primary target audience down the path we want to see all men walk down.

I completely agree that a shift in male attitudes is still needed and in many cases, certainly with my male friends and relatives, it’s been achieved. But an undercurrent of toxic masculinity still exists in the world and eradicating it will not happen overnight – but marketing messages such as Gillette’s can’t do any harm as part of the wider force for change.

I agree with a lot of the commentary I’ve seen so far highlighting the preachy tone adopted by Gillette – and you could argue that a more subtle approach would have generated more positivity following its release – especially on social media. But if brands continue to embrace the need to eradicate sexism and hold up the placards for gender equality in all walks of life, then the momentum generated could be the revelation of our time.

This is where the pressure now mounts for brands such as Gillette. Producing a single commercial like the one we’re talking about is commendable and it has us talking but, if they don’t continue to develop these messages across future advertising, then all the expenditure and effort will be wasted. The follow-through is key.

Is this commercial going to be one-hit wonder (I use the term ‘wonder’ loosely following the fallout), or is it the start of something? I hope for P&G’s sake it’s the latter. A failure to push this message through future collateral and make it part of the brand’s long-term messaging would harm Gillette’s image – sacrificing customer trust. People will see the world’s leading shaving brand purely as a short-term adopter of a trend with little care about the deep-rooted sociological issue behind it. I for one would hate this to be the case.

The next 12 months will be an interesting period for advertisers. We’ve seen big fashion brands using disabled models in their advertising over the last year or so – another significant and positive step towards the world of equality we’re striving to achieve. Can brands now start to be a force for change with regards to male/female equality? Let’s hope that in 10 years time we look back on Gillette’s #MeToo contribution as a landmark moment in the history of advertising and not a vanity showpiece with no substance.

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