Trends – The Conservative Counterculture.
In January 2019, Gillette launched a bold marketing campaign which aimed to hold men to what they consider to be a higher moral standard. Their television commercial appeared to portray men as privileged bullies, catcallers, misogynists, among other things. The ad ended with the question ‘is this the best a man can get?’ A variation of their iconic ‘Gillette the best a man can get’ slogan.
The advertisement was a hit with many feminists and the metoo movement for its stance against so-called ‘toxic masculinity’. Unfortunately for Gillette, this is not their customer base. The customer backlash against Gillette was enormous. Men who had looked upon the Gillette brand as a symbol of strength and virility, were deliberately destroying their Gillette razors. Also women, tired of the constant bashing of their boys and men, were protesting in a similar manner.
In August 2019, the true power of the consumer was revealed when Gillette’s corporate owner, Procter & Gamble, announced an $8 billion dollar write-down in the value of the Gillette brand. The result was a $5.24 billion loss for the parent company.
The entire write-down may not have been a direct result of the campaign, however it is clear that the ad was a very expensive mistake. Gillette had simply failed to notice a major shift in political and social trends. More careful analysis should have revealed that the long running ‘social justice’ movement was drawing to a close and the new ‘conservative counterculture’ was rapidly emerging.
Conservative (right-wing) YouTube news commentators operating out of their homes had subscribers in the millions. Some of them were engaging larger audiences than of their left-wing, commercial television news network rivals.
Conservative cable news network Fox News, remained the top rated commercial news network in the US, whilst the ratings for its non-conservative rivals were falling terribly.
Then of course there was the ‘populist’ political revolution mentioned previously, which was seeking to reassert national culture, custom and tradition; and, was taking the world by storm.
Despite all the signs, Gillette failed to see the trend and paid the price.
For those who do see the political and social trends and run with them, the rewards can be great. In a response to the Gillette ad, Egard Watch Company swiftly released an advertisement it had been working on which acknowledged the amazing achievement and sacrifices made by men worldwide. Instead of focusing on ‘toxic masculinity’ and the worst in male behaviour – the watch company decided it was time to celebrate the very best.
The Edgard Watch ad was visually effective in depicting men in various and emotion stirring situations. Through each situation it asked a single question, such as ‘Is a man brave?’ It then provided written statistics to answer each question. With regard to this question, the statistic read – “Men account for 93% of workplace fatalities”. At the same time we were watching an heroic fireman carry a young girl out of a burning building.
The response for Edgard Watches was overwhelmingly positive and they were sold out of stock within days. The company had read the changing political and social trends correctly and was very well rewarded by the consumer.
There have been a number of recent marketing initiatives which have triggered a conservative backlash – can you name one or two?