Okay, lets start with this tagline – "The best a man can get"
When this line beamed on our television advertising a razor blade, two things happened – one, our previous generation felt that this is one product that will complement their beard necessities precisely and two, after using them we (men) will look more good and approachable to the opposite sex.
Now, when this advertisement was telecast in was 1989, the pre-nineties. Terms like, "Toxic masculinity", "Misogyny" were not in circulation that much. The world was not a small place and people were not aware, the way we all are right now, via, the internet. Thirdly and most importantly, there was no platform as such where people could let their opinions known if any advertisement or audio-visual production was released.
So, cut to 2019, the year that has just started and Gilette is probably facing more flak any other advertisement has ever faced. Yes, the "We Believe" ad by Gillette. Sure there were other advertisements in the past (Remember the 'my choice' short film by Vogue starring Deepika Padukone) but the manner in which criticism against this ad has come from both men and women, can be a good sample for a social experiment.
But was this a social experiment?
No! This was a capitalist establishment that was trying to sell its product by using the #metoo movement in the backdrop and address certain hostile situations, where the weak get weaker and strong get stronger using unjust means.
The ad goes on to show, men help the young generation make the right decision by asking their young ones to treat others with kindness. The video ends with the line, "Because the boys watching today… will be the men of tomorrow."
Now, ever since Monday, online platforms are bursting with criticisms and surprisingly most of them are coming from men – "you're absolutely right gillette ... i am UNWORTHY of your blades. im gonna switch to schick and think about how I've been," said a user on Youtube.
Another user who is a father said, "I didn't expect any thanks when I raised my daughter alone for 5 years, or when I bought your products for 28 years but what I do not, will not, tolerate is Gillette highlighting the poor actions of a tiny minority and implying it was ever the norm. Today when I shaved I changed product for the first time. The replacement gel did EXACTLY the same thing for HALF the price," clearly indicating that he has already ditched any product of Gillette that he has been using.
"Hope it was worth losing thousands of customers for your stupid identity politics calling all men bad," said a user under the controversial ad on Gillette's twitter feed. But where does this leave, Gillette? Well, they have come up with a response to the backlash.
"We recognize it's sparking a lot of passionate dialogue—at the same time, it's getting people to stop and think about what it means to be our best selves, which is the point of the spot," said Mr Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette brand director for North America, in an emailed statement to Wall Street Journal.
Although, this is not the first time that Gillette's parent company, Procter and Gamble have used advertisements to address its stance on social issues having previously done ads on immigration, gun control and gender equality. The company was lauded for its "Like a girl" ad campaign for feminine care brand Always and Stress test for deodorant brand "Secret".
But, sometimes when brand dives into charged social issues they often take a fifty-fifty chance in losing its customer base and gaining them at the same time.
Whatever be the case, Gilette has definitely lost a sizable number of its customers who have remained loyal to them for over thirty years.