Proctor and Gamble’s Gillette has released a commercial promoting razor blades, which sends out the message that men are such a menace to women that they must be tamed. But no matter what one thinks of #MeToo, we should all question the politicisation of mass consumer advertising. We need to ask why the marketing department at Gillette thought it was a good idea to produce an advert caricaturing their customers as brutish stereotypical sex pests; who require a health warning and moral policing. It is, indeed, gobsmacking that anybody at Gillette thought it was smart for a corporate Goliath to traduce the integrity and character of their core market.
Rule number one of any sales campaign is never insult the customer. Rule number two should be don’t mix politics with razor blades. There is something Orwellian about Proctor and Gamble – now known as Big Brother – using a marketing campaign to denigrate men and to tell them what to think and how to behave. There is also something ominous and creepy about a multi-national corporation painting a dark threatening picture of most men – who are portrayed as toxic – to women and children. No wonder the advert – so far – has provoked more than 500 000 dislikes on Youtube, compared to 200 000 likes (though the battle between likes and dislikes is not the determining factor between hit or miss).
Nobody likes having their character and beliefs insulted or interrogated when they shop for everyday items. Men and women want to feel good about themselves when they shave; not morally challenged or discombobulated whenever they look in the mirror. Moral lectures from a priest-class of advertisers and mass manufacturers is not a wholesome or appealing proposition. Gillette’s clumsy intervention into the Culture Wars might win it brownie points from the right-on – woke – crowd. But in the long run, I predict, it’s going to become a gold-standard case study of a divisive, epic fail. Let’s keep moral guidance and polarising politics out of mass consumer advertising and product PR.