Gillette shifts focus to ‘local heroes’ after ‘The best a man can be’ backlash

Gillette has returned to Australian screens, launching a campaign featuring firefighter Ben Ziekenheiner, who discusses how he prepares mentally and physically to face a call out.

The Australian ad diverts away from Gillette’s ‘The best a man can be’ campaign out of the US, which saw the brand attempt to tackle the issue of toxic masculinity in the #MeToo era and how men need to be better role models for their sons.

The Best a man can be campaign, however, divided consumers, with some applauding its bravery – and others threatening to boycott the brand.

In its recent financial reporting, parent company P&G wrote down the value of the Gillette brand, resulting in an impairment charge of US$8bn. P&G cited competition from the likes of Dollar Shave Club, as well as men shaving less frequently as primary drivers of the brand’s reduced value.

Some media outlets and commentators, however, have tied the negative result directly to the campaign’s failure.

The new local Gillette ad steers clear of any mention of social issues or toxic masculinity. It promoted neither the tagline “The best a man can get”, or the revamped “The best a man can be”.

Instead, firefighter Ziekenheiner reveals the importance of being clean shaven when confronting raging fires.

The ad was created to promotes the Skin Guard range of razors, that are designed to protect the skin of people who shave everyday.

Ziekenheiner is also shown with his daughter in the ad, who presents him with a drawing of him fighting a burning house before embracing him as he leaves for work

Ziekenheiner goes on to lament: “It’s not the fire you worry about most, it’s more the constant reminder of who you might leave behind should anything ever go wrong.”

Jason Kahner, global president of health and wellness for Grey Group – the agency which worked on the US campaign – recently spoke about the opportunity #MeToo provided for the brand to make a statement about its purpose to ‘Groom the next generation of men’.

“Culture doesn’t wait for your brand to catch up. You know when you have a brand like Gillette that literally has already established its purpose of ‘grooming the next generation of men’, and you have a cultural opportunity that this provided, it was time to pounce. And it wasn’t doing it gratuitously. It earned its right to have this type of conversation,” Kahner said.

Since ‘The best a man can be’, Gillette has launched another headline-grabbing campaign ‘First Shave’, telling the story of a transgender male being taught to shave by his father.

Mumbrella has reached out to Gillette for comment.


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