On Sunday, Gillette released a short film--less than two minutes long--that's different from its usual commercials. Instead of focusing on shaving, the video focuses on the deeper meaning behind the company's familiar tagline, "The Best a Man Can Get."
Specifically, the video addresses toxic masculinity that has been nurtured over the years, either overtly or through silence, and has resulted in men mistreating others. It's a call to action to men everywhere to be the change by speaking up and doing the right thing to treat others with respect. The ad notes that when men are seen standing up in this way, it sets a positive example for young boys on what it really means to be a good man.
If you go to Gillette.com, you'll be met with an overlay that gives more context behind why the brand created the video, and what their plans are over the next three years to continue their quest to make positive change. The company also launched a similar page devoted specifically to the campaign at www.thebestmencanbe.org.
From a marketing perspective, it's all brilliant. Here are two lessons you should learn from Gillette's bold move with this campaign:
1. Go above the brand.
Business is about belonging. Since your customers aren't one-dimensional, many of them like to know that their favorite brands have the same values as they do.
When you invest your resources to tackle a problem that serves the greater good, you strengthen the bond with the customers you serve. They see that you're not just about pushing your products and services. They see that you care deeply about their plight, and that you intend to be around for the long term.
Look, for example, at this excerpt from the message Gillette posted on its website:
It's time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture. And as a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive, and healthy versions of what it means to be a man.
Don't be afraid to deviate from talking features and benefits to tackle a cause that impacts your customers on a deep level. American Express did that when it implemented Small Business Saturday. Its leaders saw that small entrepreneurs were struggling at the hands of large competitors with supersize resources, and to help be a part of the solution, the company launched the annual campaign to encourage consumers to shop small and local.
The more your customers see you as a trusted partner that exercises its voice and platform to make positive change, the more you'll pave the way for them to strengthen their emotional connection with you.
2. Don't ignore what is happening in culture.
Your customers are influenced daily by what's happening in culture. As you work to stay relevant with your customers, it's helpful to be aware of societal trends--and to embrace them as a means to communicate with your customers.
Your goal as a brand is to become inextricably linked to your customers. To do that, you can't operate in a vacuum or force your customers to compartmentalize how and when they think of you. Predetermined brand messages do exactly that.
Observe what is happening in society and in pop culture. Take the time to understand the issues at a deep level. Then, join the conversation. When an opportunity pops up to take a leadership stance on the issue, go for it.
The goal isn't to ride the heels of a cultural phenomenon solely to grab the attention of your customers. You should want to advance the conversation in a way that helps everyone make forward progress.
Kate Hudson did this recently when she posted a photo of herself breastfeeding. With the ongoing debate that exists in the U.S. about where and how women should breastfeed, particularly in public, it hit a nerve and inspired many people.
Smart leaders understand that to grow with their customers, it's more important now than ever to add a greater degree of significance that isn't just about the products and services you sell. One effective way to do that is to join or lead the effort to make life better for your customers. Everyone will win when you do.