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Canada

OPINION: Brands risk alienating consumers to become part of the conversation

Brands today are starving for relevancy and your attention. It’s not their fault there are too many choices chasing a finite amount of demand.

To counter, brands will use a number of tactics to separate you from your wallet. Mass and social media, influencer marketing, promotional efforts in store.

Some, like Nike and their campaign with Colin Kaepernick, an NFL’er who chose to kneel during the anthem in protest of a lack of civil rights, are diving into social movements. They are making a conscious effort to become part of the conversation knowing that in doing so they will alienate many of their consumers.

The most recent to wade into the conversation is Gillette with their campaign ‘Is this the best a man can get? In their campaign which openly addresses the ‘me too’ movement, they paint many males as toxic and sayings like ‘boys will be boys’ as unacceptable.

Any time a brand wades into a social movement, it comes with risk. Is Gillette doing this as a desperate attention to drive sales or are they using their brand voice to further a much-needed conversation?

Time will tell Gillette’s true intentions, but I for one applaud them for standing on this platform. My reasons are as follows:

1)Permission: Over the decade Gillette invested billions in emotional advertising showing that clean-shaven men get stroked or kissed by a beautiful woman. Their new campaign is a hard pivot but one given their past depiction of gender, they can be celebrated and encouraged for creating.

2)Solution: I don’t find this campaign to be an exploitation of a movement or more bashing but one that offers a viable solution to the problem. Gillette’s insight on ‘what boys see today they become tomorrow’ is true. However, to change behaviour and reverse culture norms will require millions of dollars invested in third-party programming. Gillette can’t be the hero here. Their role is to provide the tools to generate awareness and inspire role models. In no way should they connect their efforts to consumers buying their products.

3)Target: Gillette’s user is male, but their consumer is female as she influences the majority of household spending. I believe woman will also welcome a conversation on the need for strong male role models and influencers. I would encourage Gillette to create programming for families to watch and participate in.

4)Best Practices: Gillette is part of Procter & Gamble, and they can learn from their sister brand Always and the ‘Like a Girl’ platform to avoid speedbumps or a derailing.

5)Finally Conviction: This is a tightrope that Gillette is walking. They will be many celebrities and consumers who rally against their ad. In turn a bad quarter in sales, a retail or consumer boycott is possible. Regardless Gillette cannot change their course. This isn’t a campaign this is a conversation. Gillette started it and they must continue it.

— Chapman is a branding expert, motivational speaker and founder of tonychapmanreactions.com

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