This week, Gillette, the razor brand owned by corporate giant Proctor & Gamble, released a 2 minute online ad "We Believe: The Best Men Can Be" which has stirred up more controversy than any ad since Nike's Colin Kaepernick commercial from last year.

The short-film-esque advertisement calls for an end to "toxic masculinity" and the "Boys will be boys" excuse, and it has already received over 25 million views on YouTube and Facebook, but it has also received more dislikes than likes on YouTube, and has been criticized by conservative Tweeters, columnists, and TV pundits alike. Clearly it was gotten a lot of people's attention, even if some hate the ad. 

I love the ad. I've watched it a dozen times, and find it to be powerful, bold and moving. To me, the issue with "toxic masculinity" isn't that most men are guilty of sexism and the degradation of women, it's that most men know of a guy or two who are guilty of it, and don't actively speak up against it. That's an enormous societal challenge that Gillette is sparking a conversation about.

But forget me as a consumer, for a moment. Let me put on my marketing expertise hat on and tell you the three reasons that despite the naysayers, the ad is a huge winner that will undoubtedly lift sales for Gillette:

1. It takes a stand and sounds a powerful message to millennials.

Gillette is an aging brand that needed to refresh itself for young people, who are buying razors with less frequency than generations before them. There is tons of research which suggests that millenials are looking for purpose-driven brands, that taking a stand matters to them, and that they shop with their hearts as well as their minds. While perhaps alienating a minority of conservative, traditional millenials, this ad speaks to the majority of millennials and even younger men who are noting the changing times and want an easy way to support change. In fact, ironically it might be easier for a young man to buy a Gillette razor than to speak up against his macho sexist buddy. Guess what generation Gillette wants to build lifelong loyalty with today? I'll give you a clue: It's not Baby Boomers.

2. It's the perfect use of long-form video for the social web.  

The social internet is perfect for super-short form content like tweets, Instagram stories, and :10 second videos. But you know what else it's great for? Long-form content, e.g. video content longer than the traditional :60 television spot. I've been showing this 3 minute online rice commercial for years in my keynote speeches for instance, because it tells an incredible story that couldn't be told in just 60 seconds. The cost of buying 25 million TV views of a 2 minute ad would be enormous! That's why nobody buys 2 minute TV ads. But when you have two minute story to tell, Facebook and YouTube are the perfect platforms to use.

3. Everybody's talking about it.

Ultimately, the goal of great advertising and marketing is to cut through the clutter and create a conversation. Over the past week, the Gillette commercial has done just that. Whether you love it or hate it, whether you've even seen the spot in its entirety or not, by now you've surely heard people talking about it--and Gillette--on social media, on the television news, on late night talk shows, online, and at the water cooler at work. It's about frequency and reach, and Gillette has done that in a cost-effective way here.

I've read several critiques of the Gillette ad, ranging from well-researched to maniacal. But you know what just about all of the critiques of the ad have in common? They're written by men.

And you know who buys an awful lot of razors, in addition to men? Women.

Kudos to Gillette (and their creative agency Grey) on a job well done.

Published on: Jan 17, 2019
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