By Marcus Honesta.
You have to go back a long time historically to replicate a similar truly cataclysmic worldwide marketing blunder. It was Tuesday, April 23rd, 1985—a day that will live in marketing infamy and that spawned consumer angst the likes of which no business has ever seen. The Coke monolith broke all the rules and arrogantly dissed its loyal consumer base by introducing New Coke. Production of the original formulation ended later that week.
Well history has shown what a huge blunder that was.
But, stand by . . .… you ain’t seen nothing yet!
The arrogant, out- of- touch, brain- dead marketers preoccupied with social engineering rather than product positioning and sales have again reared their ugly heads. But this time, it isn’t the world’s largest beverage company; instead, it is now the world’s largest FMCG corporation’s turn — Proctor & Gamble (P&G) — through its iconic market-leading brand Gillette.
For the past 30 years, Gillette had been — “The Best A Man Can Get”.—an iconic market-leading positioning!
However, in 2019, the marketers at “world shaving headquarters” (yes, you read it correctly, that’s what they call themselves) decided the campaign needed to be revitalised, revived, renovated and refaced.
So now, in a seemingly innocuous shift, the slogan has become: “The Best a Man Can Be.” Yet, let’s not be fooled by this simple change.
Thirty years ago, Gillette’s 1989 shaver positioning and corporate message was a celebration of masculinity. The ad was full of iconic images of pride: fathers hugging their children, and men as corporate stars, winning athletes, devoted husbands and fun-loving friends. “We know how to make the best of who you are,” boasted the proud commentary over the backdrop of a heroic anthem track.
However, the latest dark, accusatory Gillette advertisement launched this week speaks to the great achievement of third-wave feminism in trashing the male brand. The ad shows scene after scene of so-called “toxic masculinity”—men treating women with disdain, nasty aggressive boys and brutish men.
The virtue-signalling campaign from Gillette singles out praise for only the few men it claims are willing to teach most men to behave. It captures the zeitgeist in the most shocking fashion.
And it’s an appalling effort at social engineering.
The Gillette executives earn their living feeding off what it means to be male. And now, they decide to attack their customer base, to announce to the world that everything about masculinity is bad, dangerous and deficient. A 30-year iconic, market-leading positioning strategy has been just been bastardised and neutered.
Of course, this isn’t the first time P&G has completely ballsed it up. Some of my older readers may recall the Ivory Soap (SNOW) fiasco.