Saturday, January 26, 2019
About That Controversial Gillette Ad - Should Corporations Engage In Social Commentary?
About the controversial Gillette ad, it's beautifully filmed and one could argue that it simply calls on men to step up and do what's right when they see men bullying and belittling women. Great. Long overdue, and there's nothing wrong with that general sentiment.
But the #MeToo movement the ad references often devolves into anti-male hate and a generalization that all men are inherently aggressive by their very nature, and need "fixing." This turns this into a politically-charged ad, and a socially polarizing one.
Should corporations be involved in political ads and "virtue signaling" about social issues at all? From a #PR point of view, these kind if ads can appeal to one side of an issue, but repel others, so they are inherently risky, and divisive.
Gillette, and its parent company Procter & Gamble, likely assumed that everyone would be on the side of not being rude to women, but the perception of the ad as an attack on all men, as some in the Me Too movement have sometimes sounded, seems to be overwhelming this benign interpretation of the ad, leading to a massive #boycottGillette effort, emerging on the social platforms Twitter and Facebook.
We have of course seen this before, as when companies such as 84 Lumber have waded into the immigration debate with a Super Bowl ad featuring illegal immigrants crossing the border.
Gillette now faces a boycott from men, their primary users, while getting praise from women. A dangerous economic strategy, and a warning for other companies that are tempted to wade into divisive political issues.