Gillette’s The Best Men Can Be was unsuccessful because it didn’t match brand values

Gillette’s The Best Men Can Be ad was unsuccessful in its attempt to align with a social issue because that approach doesn’t match its brand values, according to Russ Tucker, creative director of Eleven and TBWA Sydney.

Tucker, speaking at a Mumbrella CommsCon panel, compared Gillette’s controversial ad, which responded to a social conversation about sexism, with campaigns from Nike that have tackled issues such as racism.

Russ Tucker speaking at Mumbrella’s CommsCon

“If you look at Nike, they’ve always supported everyone. They’ve always been a very equal brand, where they’ve said: we’ll sponsor female and male players, we’ll back people regardless of their race or gender,” Tucker said.

“So I think for them to slightly narrow in on a topic, such as racism, or women in sport, inequality, it feels like the right fit for that brand, because they’ve been gradually doing it over years. They’ve always had a very open and inclusive value. ‘Just do it’ is pretty much ‘anyone with a body is an athlete.'”

Tucker asserted that Gillette didn’t achieve this success because the message appeared dislocated from what the brand has traditionally stood for.

“Gillette is ‘the best a man can get’ and it’s always been that. It’s always been like seven razor blades and chiselled dudes,” he said.

“So I think it’s really interesting that they sort of looked at the trend of going ‘right, we should realign to a better cultural value’, which is absolutely the right thing to do, it’s just the execution of it was so … in your face and on the nose and polarising.

“I don’t think it was a failure, by the way. I think it was a really good, brave attempt and I kind of applaud them for having a crack. But they tried to do a hand brake turn versus a slight correction.”

Fellow panellist Bridget Jung, creative director of Opr agency, agreed, but said Pepsi’s ad, which was pulled after being accused of trivialising the Black Lives Matter movement, was worse.

“Not having any kind of response is ultimate failure,” she said.

“If you look at Nike, it was an overwhelming success. Gillette: there was strong negatives, there were some positives, and at least they’re trying. I think, on the other extreme, you’ve got Pepsi, which was totally tone deaf in terms of what they tried to do, and I don’t think there were any positives coming out of that campaign.

“How it happens? Who knows … either the agent or the client gets carried away with themselves and is actually not connected to how people are going to respond.”


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