Gillette’s Ad Angered Old Customers in Pursuit of New Ones
(Bloomberg) -- Procter & Gamble Co.’s Gillette ad asked men to consider doing better. As a result, at least some are willing to consider Gillette.
Though the early reaction seemed to be dominated by male umbrage, early data suggests the ad split two important groups for the brand. More than half of younger men -- a group the 117-year-old brand’s struggled with -- reacted positively, according to survey data from Harris Poll. Their dads, though, were more likely to be offended.
Among millennials and Gen Zs, 57 percent said they’d be more likely to consider purchasing Gillette products. Nearly two-thirds of Gen X men said the same. Roughly the same proportion of Baby Boomers, though, felt the opposite.
“We knew this film might be polarizing,” a P&G spokeswoman told Bloomberg. “Conversations on these profound social issues can be difficult for all sides but we believe they are important and that, by sparking the discussion, we can play a part in creating meaningful and positive change.”
Brands are growing increasingly comfortable making politics part of their marketing, courting buzz and controversy at the risk of alienating some consumers, at least in the short term. The effects on the bottom line, however, take longer to reveal themselves. For example, Nike Inc.’s commercial featuring quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick inspired a social media call for a boycott. Months later, the company reported that the campaign boosted its online traffic and engagement, leading to sales growth.
The advertisement, which has by now been viewed more than 70 million times across its social media channels, was “dog whistling to a younger demographic,” said Jess Weiner, culture expert and chief executive officer of Talk to Jess, a marketing and advertising consulting firm.
“Gillette is an iconic brand but it’s probably your dad’s or your granddad’s brand,’’ she said. “They were intentionally taking on a topic that is in the zeitgeist for millennial audiences right now.’’
During the first week of the campaign’s run, it generated over $34 million in media exposure, according to Eric Smallwood of Apex Marketing, which measures sentiment on TV, radio and online news. A little more than one-third of the coverage and reaction was negative, he said, roughly on par with the reactions to Nike’s Kaepernick ad during its first week.
Six percent of responses to Gillette were positive, fewer than the 11 percent positive responses generated by the Nike ad.
“The way to be modern is to take on a social issue,” said John Gerzema, chief executive officer of The Harris Poll. “They were successful in getting the brand back into the culture.’’
The ad also appealed to a secondary category of Gillette customers: women. Fifty-three percent of women liked the ad. That’s not insignificant -- women use more than a fifth of male razors in the U.S., according to data from Kantar, which analyzed the shopping habits of 10,000 people.
Plus, women still hold the buying power for household products, which includes razors, Weiner said. “I definitely I think this is about capturing a new market,” she said about Gillette’s ad. “It’s this generation’s call to arms. That’s an absolute right place to cultivate a brand loyalty.”
Any impact from the ad won’t show up until P&G releases its third-quarter earnings in April. Gillette is part of its Shave Care business, which makes up 8 percent of global net sales.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.