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As Men Ditch Their Gillettes, the Company Responds

'We weren’t trying to court controversy,' says company exec of new ad
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2019 11:15 AM CST
Gillette Responds to Critics of New Ad
This image from Gillette's Twitter account shows a Gillette advertisement. The ad for men invoking the #MeToo movement is sparking online backlash, with some saying it talks down to men and calling for a boycott.   (Gillette via AP)

(Newser) – A new Gillette ad has provoked a huge reaction on social media, but perhaps not precisely in the way parent company Procter & Gamble anticipated. As NPR notes, the ad accusing men of boorish behavior and urging them to end it has roughly twice as many dislikes as likes on YouTube. (You can watch it here.) The company, however, insists it didn't try to generate controversy simply as a way to raise the brand's profile. Details and developments:

  • Company's defense: "We weren't trying to court controversy," Gillette brand director Pankaj Bhalla tells Fast Company. "We were just trying to upgrade the selling line that we've held for 30 years—the Best a Man Can Get—and make it relevant." The idea, he says, is to help good men be better, by actions such as respecting women and pushing back against bullying. "I don't think our intention was to have controversy just for the sake of controversy."
  • Actually positive: Despite the larger number of dislikes, a broader look at social media metrics suggests response has been generally positive, notes Fast Company. "Between January 14 and 16, 63% of the 645,000 tweets about @Gillette have been positive, and 94% of the 246,000 tweets hashtagged #TheBestMenCanBe have been positive."

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  • The backlash: Lots of men, however, are insulted by the ad and ditching their Gillette products, as tweets and photos rounded up at Business Insider show. A typical image is this one, showing a man tossing his razor in the trash. "It's been with me through basic training, four deployments, and seven moves," the user writes. "I've used it almost everyday for the past 15 years. But since @Gillette thinks I'm a bad person, I'm throwing it away. #BoycottGillette."
  • Be careful: Another man tweeted an image of his Gillette razor in the toilet with the caption, "Goodbye Gillette. Hello Schick." But he then got ridiculed for the move, notes the Daily Dot. As a sewer company tweeted, "hello clog." The man, however, swears he didn't actually flush.
  • Nike got it right: At New York, Josh Barro thinks Gillette's ad fails because it comes across as preachy and "awfully self-important." He contrasts it with a similarly themed Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, which he says works because it is "uplifting rather than accusatory." Besides, he adds, if Procter & Gamble wanted to pick a product in need of adjustment in regard to masculinity, it should have gone with Old Spice.
  • Good results for Nike: Another note on that Nike ad mentioned above: Sales actually spiked after the controversial spot, something Gillette is surely aware of.
  • Not impressed: Columnist Julie Hinds of the Detroit Free Press isn't giving Gillette too much credit. The company isn't leading here, it's merely "riding the wave of cultural change that others have been courageously forging." She also finds the backlash from outraged men "depressingly predictable."
  • Last word to Gillette: "If we get people to pause, reflect, and to challenge themselves and others to ensure that their actions reflect who they really are, then this campaign will be a success," a Gillette spokesperson tells NPR.
(Read more Gillette stories.)

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