Abid Hussain Barlaskar
Points of View

As Gillette slams misogyny, mansplaining, machoism...

We asked a few brand experts to analyse the international spot.

For years we have been witness to ads that encourage women to be free, to be themselves and to fight back against patriarchy and other social injustices. So, bearing that and other social issues in mind, Gillette's latest international ad can be taken as a lesson for today's men, to be further imparted to their children - the men of the next generation.

As Gillette slams misogyny, mansplaining, machoism...

Gillette's latest international ad spot - We Believe: The Best Men Can Be

Set against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, the ad takes on a host of evils including bullying, objectification of women, mansplaining, and sexual harassment among others. The ad paints red the sentiment of 'boys will be boys' and calls on men to hold other men accountable for their wrongs.

So, with its first step in the land of activism advertising, the obvious question is - where will the next foot land? And how will Gillette take the campaign forward?

Gillette's major reaction or action post the campaign could be seen with the brand axing ties with cricketer Hardik Pandya, the brand's face in India. Pandya drew a lot of flak recently, on a popular talk show, due to his comments regarding women. He was accused of being disrespectful and objectifying women.

Industry speak:

Lubna Khan, strategy consultant

As Gillette slams misogyny, mansplaining, machoism...

Lubna Khan

After decades of brand communication riddled with masculine stereotypes, Gillette has started a more conviction-led conversation challenging toxic masculine behaviour. While I applaud the move for its intent, it only makes sense to me both as a strategist and a consumer if Gillette walks the talk. Creating a campaign, donating money to some non-profits or even distancing themselves from brand ambassadors that don't seem to share their convictions, is just the smallest first step.

I would like to know what concrete, measurable goals have been set and actions taken by the organisation to move the needle both in society and within their own system. What are they doing with employees, partners, sellers? What platforms for change are they promoting and advocating? What culture-specific issues are they tackling in each of their markets across the globe, including India? From now on, the onus is on Gillette to prove that they really live up to their stated beliefs.

Tarun Singh Chauhan, brand consultant from TSC consulting

As Gillette slams misogyny, mansplaining, machoism...

Tarun Singh Chauhan

#MeToo is a huge grey area where the occurrences might or might not be true. So, building a brand story around it is a bad idea. The way people perceive it varies from person to person. Moreover, a lot of the issues taken up in the ad are caused by the loss of culture and mutual respect. Bring that back and the rest will fall into place.

Gillette is one of the largest and most popular brands laced with chauvinism. The clear message is - 'you want to look sexy and hot, you use a Gillette. And you want to do that so that women chase you.' But the brand's sudden change in tone in this ad is contradicting and goes against what the brand has been saying for the last several decades. It's like Fair & Lovely saying 'you don't have to look fair anymore'.

Sharda Agarwal, co-founder, Sepalika

As Gillette slams misogyny, mansplaining, machoism...

Sharda Agarwal

The real value of the campaign will surface when Gillette decides what to do beyond the TVC. The brand's objective was to highlight that men need a change in attitude and behaviour and these changes begin early in life. This is its way of lending support to the #MeToo movement.

The commercial is only a first step in that direction. The brand has to sustain this message over a long period and supplement ad communication with other activities.

Soap brand Dove did something like that with its message that said Dove's not about cosmetic or popular notions of beauty, but inner beauty. Dove did this for more than a decade and supplemented it with many on-ground activities. Gillette can carry this one on in many ways - on-ground activities, social media movements etc.

Another thing is building the movement across cultures. The approach for India would be totally different and more difficult than the US.

Gillette distancing itself from Hardik Pandya is in sync with what it stated in its ad.

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