Gillette sends a silent message

By Devesh Gupta , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising
Last updated : February 18, 2013
Gillette, the men's personal care brand from Procter and Gamble (P&G), has come up with an interesting television commercial in the wake of the recent public uproar about crimes against women. The TVC urges boys and men in the age group of 15-45 to stand up and be the soldiers who can protect women.

Men's personal care brand Gillette has often featured women in its advertising to promote products for men. Some of these have also won recognition at international events such as Cannes, including the WALS (women against lazy stubble) campaign, which won a silver Lion at Cannes 2010. In the newest TVC from the brand, they appear in entirely another way: it asks for 'soldiers' to stand up for women, show more respect and set high moral standards in society.

Conceptualised by BBDO India, the television commercial, Soldiers Wanted, is set in a stark black and white setting that shows first men, then women and lastly, both together,of different demographics, in different settings. As the silent montage runs in the background, the message appears in colour, asking for soldiers to protect not the borders but the women of the country.

Sharat Verma

Josy Paul

The campaign targets men in the age group of 15-45 years, and is timed to connect with the recent public anger set off by several incidencts of crime against women that have received high media coverage. The commercial effectively uses the weapon of silence to underscore that instead of mere words, it is time for serious action.

Sharat Verma, country marketing manager, Gillette, says, "Gillette's brand purpose is to help men make a difference in their world. Our 'Soldiers Wanted' TVC calls out to all the men who embrace the values of the solider by standing up for women. Our intent is to enable men to help them make a difference in the new, more aware India today."

He adds that through this movement, the brand wants to encourage and give voice to thousands of men who embrace the values of a soldier, including the values of courage, honour and respect for women.

Speaking about the insight behind the campaign, Josy Paul, chairman and NCD, BBDO explains that the aim was to communicate that it's time for action. "As citizens, we understand the mood of the nation and what people want is action and a solution to the problem," he says.

He further adds that "ours is a humble approach and we wanted to be sensititive and yet use no words because we believe that action speaks louder than words".

The campaign is spread across television, print, digital and mobile.

Sound idea?

Raghu Bhat

Mythili Chandrasekar

Is the brand successful in communicating a sincere concern and thus leaving a mark, or is this an attempt to ride the wave of public concern? Also, how might women react to the notion of needing the protection of men?

Raghu Bhat, founder and director, Scarecrow Communications, says, "The ad is trying to tap into the recent conversations about sexual abuse. It's trying to get men to act by evoking the emotion of 'pity', which seems unlike the 'Gillette' way of doing things."

He adds that the message of 'Soldier for women' is right but the creative execution enfeebles the women rather than inspiring the men to act. The message of 'Respect for women' is overpowered by the 'weak' images of women, he thinks.

On the other hand, Mythili Chandrasekar, senior vice-president and executive planning director, JWT India, says, "Clever of them to get on to this quickly. And, since Gillette has been doing ideas involving women, it seems like a good space to go to. But is it just lip service, 'nice to do' and opportune advertising or does this really go someplace that truly empowers and protects women is something to wait and see - besides, of course, the link to the product."

First Published : February 18, 2013
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