Some of the greatest marketing campaigns tell a story. A story will help your target audience become more emotionally connected to your campaign, increasing the likelihood that they'll actually purchase your product or service. Having the correct impact on your audience requires that you observe several factors, including brand recognition, communication with your target audience, and promotion of your unique services. Combined with a story, these elements create an awesome combination for an ad that creates a viral stir in the digital world. So, with all of this in mind, I wasn't surprised that Gillette's new "We Believe" campaign made a huge bang online. This controversial commercial flipped the script on Gillette's traditional branding and challenged their target audience with a new perspective on "masculine products." Let's break down what this campaign did, and why so many people are talking about it right now.
Known for the slogan, "The best a man can get," Gillette created a new commercial that challenged their traditional branding by changing the slogan to, "The best men can be." The commercial conveyed a theme addressing what is known as "toxic masculinity," an idea that examines the effect of traditional gender roles on issues like bullying and misogyny. This commercial immediately went viral, racking up global attention and conversation. This was an unexpected change for Gillette. As a company whose target audience is almost exclusively men, the campaign is a bit of a gamble. In a one-minute, 48-second commercial, Gillette changed the viewers' perception of their brand, creating a new image with the assumed goal of potentially targeting a wider audience.
Regardless of the reactions that this campaign is producing, the commercial's story is a recipe for viral digital marketing. By incorporating a topic that is currently highly relevant in society (i.e. toxic masculinity and the #MeToo movement), this campaign portrays a relatable issue that will resonate with their target audience. Whether this reaction is negative or positive, this creates an impact. The story itself furthers the viral success of the video through social media sharing and further conversation. To date, the video has accumulated more than 5 million views within 48 hours, and there's no sign of it stopping. The continuing comments, shares, likes and even dislikes pull more viewers towards the video, increasing Gillette's brand awareness and their reach. With so many new eyes on their campaign, the potential for them to elevate their market, or even break into a new one, is high.
How can you incorporate Gillette's tactics into your own marketing strategy?
In the case of Gillette, they used a hot topic to further their message through a story that would affect their audience, both negatively and positively. This is where the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity can come into play, as each impression furthers their brand messaging. However, you don't always need to make a controversial video to do this. I've found that timing and creativity are two key elements of kicking off an exceptional ad campaign. In order to do this, you must stay current with your marketing. Observe all of the trends, even if they aren't specific to your market, and think of ways that you can weave the hot topics into your own marketing strategy. With the right angle and the right story, you can hit marketing gold.
In addition to the praise that Gillette's viral campaign and video has garnered, there has been a significant amount of backlash. Critics have claimed that the video portrays men in an overly unfavorable light, placing blame on negative aspects of the male gender. Regardless, the video has created a controversy that's got everyone talking. So, what does this mean for workplace culture, especially for communication professionals? And what value can be gleaned from a viral campaign that sparks a heated debate? Campaigns such as this often affect employees and communication professionals differently, and Gillette's recent campaign carries the possibility of having an immediate impact on workplace culture. The hot topic debate, as well as the implication regarding gender-based harassment, violence, and other forms of discrimination, can spark an important discussion among employees. This can ultimately initiate changes towards a more inclusive workplace culture. Once combined with HR efforts, the conversation itself offers a fresh outlook to communication professionals regarding how the workplace can adapt to new cultural standards. The brilliance of Gillette's marketing campaign is that it initiates the communication of new ideas. Whether or not you are agree with the stance portrayed in the video, the debate presented offers a valuable perspective for any person in the marketing and communication field by creating methods of furthering a company's stance on workplace culture. With further conversation from employees, this causes all team members to pause and consider their own actions in a corporate environment. Ultimately, smart marketing leads to more conversation about your brand. Whether employees agree with the campaign's message or not, the subsequent discussions can lead to a better understanding of your own workplace culture, and how it is influenced by media bias. If you're an IABC member and would like to continue this discussion, you can view the thread in The Hub online community here.