The best an ad can get?

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Razor brand Gillette took “new year new me” to new heights this January with a rebrand of its 30-year-old slogan “the best a man can get”. In a short film entitled Believe, the brand controversially touched on the #MeToo movement, bullying and toxic masculinity in efforts to unite men everywhere and inspire them to become “the best a man can be”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koPmuEyP3a0

The actual effect of the advert has been a deep online division. Some have praised the company for trying to move its slogan out of the dark ages of stereotypical male masculinity, into the 21st century where men should be advocates of equality. Others (most) have criticised the ad for alienating its main target market by placing the blame for societal issues on them.

With #BoycottGillette trending on Twitter, it’s safe to say that in hopes for a Nike Colin Kaepernick effect (where the sports brand enlisted the former NFL player in a controversial but successful campaign which touched on racial injustice in the US) – Gillette has in fact emulated a Pepsi-style disaster (where Kendall Jenner featured in an ad which touched on similar issues but sparked widespread outrage).

Like the Gillette ad, Nike also received a huge backlash from customers who posted videos of themselves burning products on social media and claimed that they would no longer buy Nike products. The brand in fact saw a 31% increase in sales in the days after the campaign and its stock price reached an all-time high. Pepsi even saw a boost in sales caused by the buzz generated on social media despite having to pull its ad 24 hours after it was first aired.

It’s unclear whether brands have the responsibility or even the right to comment on societal issues and what the impact of doing so will be. But as the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity and despite having 1.3 million dislikes on YouTube (versus 745,000 likes) – the Gillette ad has over 27 million views meaning that this is something that we are likely to see a lot more in 2019.

Faith Nyamande - Research Analyst

Annabel Gerrard