Gillette enraged millions of Americans in January when they debuted their new “toxic masculinity” ad campaign, which essentially demonized American men and the values they internalize. With scornful scenes of boys play-fighting at a BBQ, wolf-whistling at women as they walk down the street, and other examples of bad behavior, the commercial ended with the solemn question: “Is this the best a man can get?”
Many viewers saw the commercial as a ruthless attack on the company’s primary customer base – i.e., men. Feminists, naturally, said that the only people who would be offended by the commercial were perpetrators of toxic masculinity themselves.
Despite the backlash, Gillette doubled down on their political advertising in May, when they released a commercial showing a transgender teenager learning to shave. They’ve also spread the wokeness to their female oriented brands like Venus with ads celebrating obese girls and transgender razor customers.
None of this pandering has apparently done much for the company’s bottom line; indeed, they shed $8 billion in worth last quarter. While it’s impossible to know how much the company’s leftist ad campaigns contributed to this downfall (Gillette was already struggling with sales), it certainly doesn’t seem to have helped.
But Gillette CEO and president Gary Coombe is not backing down. In an interview with Marketing Week, Coombe said that even if the ad campaign had directly contributed to the brand’s decline, it was “a price worth paying” to be on the right side of history. We’re sure Procter & Gamble stockholders are pleased to hear that the company is in such fiscally-responsible hands.
“It was pretty stark. We were losing share, we were losing awareness and penetration, and something had to be done,” Coombe said. “So we decided to take a chance in an emotionally-charged way.
“I don’t enjoy that some people were offended by the film and upset at the brand as a consequence. That’s not nice and goes against every ounce of training I’ve had in this industry over a third of a century,” he continued. “But I am absolutely of the view now that for the majority of people to fall more deeply in love with today’s brands you have to risk upsetting a small minority and that’s what we’ve done.”
So he admits that, according to “every ounce of training” he’s gotten over his time in the industry, it’s generally not a great idea to offend your customer base with politically-charged advertising. But, since he’s wrapped up in LiberalThink, he’s determined to just go ahead and do it anyway, consequences be damned.
We wish Gillette luck with this bizarre new approach to running a business. Should make for quite the historical lesson in tomorrow’s college business courses.