Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Gillette’s Controversial Advertisement
You have probably heard the maxim “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”—a saying that has long been attributed to 19th Century showman P.T. Barnum. While there is no definitive proof that Barnum ever said those words, the idea has certainly been echoed countless times over the years. As it applies to business, the basis of the statement is that any type of attention, including negative attention, will make people more aware of your company or brand.
As a business law attorney, I realize that controversial publicity is not reserved for smaller brands trying to make a name for themselves. Some of the most recognizable brands in the world occasionally take on contentious topics because they feel that they have a responsibility to their customers and the world at large. This sense of social responsibility seems to be the motivation behind a new ad campaign from Gillette—one that is drawing both messages of support and calls for boycotts.
“The Best a Man Can Get”
Proctor & Gamble’s primary men’s care brand Gillette has been using the tag line “The Best a Man Can Get” for three decades. This week, the company released a new advertising campaign that turns the slogan into a question with near-accusatory undertones. The centerpiece of the campaign is short YouTube video that highlights social issues that have been recently associated with what many are calling “toxic masculinity.” The video references the sexual misconduct that prompted the #MeToo movement over the last year and a half, as well as other issues like bullying.
It is easy to infer an accusatory intent as the video shows a line of men—fathers, it seems—behind their barbecue grills continually reciting, “Boys will be boys” as they watch their sons physically fight on the grass on front of them. A voiceover narrator directly asks the viewer, “Is this the best a man can get?” The narration goes on to say, “We can’t laugh it off, making the same old excuses.” In short, the piece challenges men to do the right thing and to be “The Best a Man Can Be.”
Company executives knew that the ad would be met with a wide range of reactions, but they were willing to take the risk. “It’s getting people to stop and think about what it means to be our best selves, which is the point of the spot,” said Gillette’s North American brand director Pankaj Bhalla.
The video currently has more than 4.4 million views on YouTube alone—with countless more on other sites by this point. Thousands of people have expressed their support of Gillette looking to hold men accountable for unacceptable behavior while thousands of others claim that the razor company is promoting an anti-male agenda to curry favor with social progressives. TV personality Piers Morgan took to Twitter to call the ad “absurd virtue signalling [sic] PC guff” and part of the “global assault on masculinity.”
It bears pointing out that Gillette has obviously struck a chord with its efforts and started a conversation. Without the ad, it is unlikely that many people would be talking about Gillette in the middle of January. Perhaps controversial publicity could be good publicity after all.
Contact a DuPage County Business Lawyer
If you are passionate about a particular social issue and are concerned about how your views might affect your company’s image and bottom line, contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation at the Gierach Law Firm today.