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The Gillette Ad: Visuals Changing the Conversation in 2019

Remember last year when Nike celebrated 30 years of “Just Do It” with some kickass ad campaigns, like their Serena masterpiece? It’s no surprise the Kaepernick campaign crowned Nike as Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year; within 72 hours of launching the ad, Nike’s brand was mentioned more than 5.2 million times on social media. This courageous and risky embrace of visual storytelling not only won Nike industry bragging rights, but also had a direct impact on contemporary culture, sparking millions of conversations and even causing thousands of people to willingly burn their shoes…Nevertheless it’s a testament to how brands are changing the conversation with powerful visuals.

Value-Based Marketing #ftw

Brands are increasingly starting to take note of how impactful value-based marketing can be on a larger scale, aka leveraging “wokeness” – and it’s working. Nike’s award winning campaign was a historical tsunami-of-a-marketing-move, and no brand has made bigger recent waves until Gillette, thanks to their mic drop yesterday in the form of a one minute, forty eight second tearjerker. In Gillette’s most recent campaign, “We Believe,” they boldly flip the script on their 30-year-old tagline from “The Best a Man Can Get” to “The Best Men Can Be.”

Just good PR? Or are they for real?

Gillette’s remixed “The Best Men Can Be” comes with an ask to all to be better, but not without acknowledging that it starts with the brand itself. With a tone of self-awareness Gillette addresses “toxic masculinity” and (most importantly) the role they have played in “influencing culture” as noted in a pledge to do better.

Thanks to the virality of this campaign Gillette has all eyes on them, so for a lack of better words, [the internet]’ll be the judge of that. Leading by example and acknowledging accountability already puts Gillette in a more positive light than most brands, which are still too risk-averse to take a public stance in the era of #metoo and addressing “toxic masculinity”.

Give them what they want: powerful visuals

“We Believe” had some key visual moments that defined Gillette’s journey to being better, which makes this ad watchable all the way through whether or not viewers are listening. Viewers want real stories, and you want them to pay attention to your content with or without sound. Here is Gillette’s visual journey towards change and doing better:

Gillette’s self-examination of their past

A crucial step to change. With this montage Gillette is in a way admitting to their past, with their tail in between their legs. It begins with a call back to a generously alpha-male-themed 1989 ad campaign (scoring in the office, on the field, with women), cut to other consistent contributors to “toxic masculinity” such as bullying, #metoo images, etc. In just a few seconds Gillette is able to display an entire history of issues/culture they feel they have helped influence.

A visual representation acknowledging the problem that persists

monotonous repetition of the same old saying “boys will be boys”

and acknowledgment that they are aware the times are changing.

Gillette shows how they want to be a part of the change

by visualizing a Gillette customer embodying the process of change

A man pensively looks at himself in the mirror, and it’s implied he is destined to do better. We learn why in the next shot.

He is a father, and therefore wants to lead by example. Here’s his chance: he notices a boy getting chased by some bullies

Taking his son through a crowd to stop the bullies, this couldn’t be a more classic visual representation of “leading by example”.

“because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow”

“The Best Men Can Be” a visual

in a few seconds Gillette visualizes a world where men are being “the best men can be” by showing one man calling out another man for catcalling in a “we don’t do that anymore, bro” kind of way

What you can learn from Gillette

In a world where big brands like Pepsi can’t get away with a tone-deaf ad disguised as a “message of unity, peace and understanding” anymore, all eyes are on your brand to embody positive, healthy values and actually deliver with content in the form of authentic storytelling. Gillette knew this campaign would make waves, and they were prepared with multiple fallbacks to reinforce their message. Make sure that your message is consistent across the board.

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