Gillette is not the first company to endorse a political message within their advertisements, and nor will it be the last. The technique has been employed before by Lynx, Pepsi, and Nike among many others; it isn’t new or ground-breaking. We live in a society where injustice happens regularly, yet marketing campaigns that recognise and highlight this are seen to be shocking. The question lies in what impact advertisements such as this hold, and if they have a right to do so at all.
The conversation following the release of Gillette’s new short film targeted just that.
Immediately, there was an outpour of response. Is it just a capitalist stunt intended for profit? Or is this an indication of a greater change through the wide-spread identification of inequality? It’s all a matter of opinion. If you were to ask Piers Morgan, for example, he would respond with the catchy tagline of, ‘Let boys be damn boys. Let men be damn men.’ It’s not difficult to imagine what he believes makes a boy or a man. It’s also not difficult to assume that Morgan will do, and say, what needs to be said in order to seem controversial and relevant. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that mass amounts of people looked at the advert as a threat to their masculinity. Across social media people threatened to boycott the brand, some even posting pictures of their beloved razors thrown in the toilet.
Reactions such as this highlight the capitalist undertones of the advertisement. Gillette is a known brand and yet it has not received as much attention as this in years. The video itself racked up over four million views on YouTube within 48 hours. In light of this we are reminded of one key fact: Gillette is a company. Companies strive to increase sales and profits wherever possible. Every advertisement they create hold this intention at its core. So, what is the point in determining whether it’s a capitalist strategy or a political movement? Surely, it can be both.
Whether the advert was produced as a progressive response to real world issues, or simply as a marketing ploy to increase sales we must welcome it with open arms. We must look beyond its initial intentions and instead witness and consider its repercussions; because progressive or not, it identifies the conversation that needs to remain at the forefront of all media outlets. The conversation that needs to happen in every office, classroom and home. A conversation about doing better and being better. Gillette upholds this momentum, and whether this aids their profits is null and void. All large companies work for profit, but not all of them use their platform to educate their audience; like it or not, the advert displays a vital message.
You are free to hold your own opinions on the matter, but please remember, you’ll be the one picking the razor back out of your toilet.