Gillette: ‘the best an ad can get?’

Social media has erupted once again, and this time it’s over the release of shaving brand Gillette’s latest advert.

Most razor ads used to (and still do) stick to a traditional and simple formula. A very attractive male model of a man stands and admires his smooth face as a result of a smooth shave, or it would feature sports stars like Neymar Jr kicking a football whilst bragging about the technological features of the razor.

This latest advert has ditched the stereotypes and gone in a whole new, and less passive, direction. Judging by some of the reactions on social media, it has immediately succeeded in justifying its own existence.

Much of the outrage has fuelled debate about the advert, which in itself has further spread the promotion across multiple social media platforms. The old saying ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ is working well in Gillette’s favour.

The advert shows the increasing trend that brands and business are not afraid to take a stance on a controversial or political issue. This is not surprising when you consider that we live in a world of declining TV audiences and a rise in online streaming. Advertisers used to have the reassurance that their advert would be seen by millions on TV. But TV is now competing not just against social media, but against the likes of mobile apps, Netflix and Youtube. These traditional television spots now need to be more engaging and work online as well as off. 

Gillette isn’t the first brand to jump into a contentious topic in their adverts. Last year both Nike and Iceland went viral online with their respective commercials. Nike’s featured NFL quarterback and campaigner Colin Kaepernick, whose decision to kneel during the American national anthem sparked a movement. Colin’s stance led to him being frozen out by NFL franchise and he’s currently without a team, but Nike? Despite criticism from some right-wing politicians (*cough*Donald Trump*cough*), the advert was a massive success for the sports brand.

Iceland’s Christmas advert on Palm Oil went viral last year, and that was despite it being banned on from airing on TV due to a breaching of rules on political advertising. Judging from the various debates and discussion it created on social media, the advert was a resounding success. Even a few famous faces weighed in on the debate!

Iceland Palm Oil advert shifted the perception of the brand, lifting it above their rivals Christmas campaigns in terms of ‘consumer consideration.’ It’s too early to tell whether the Gillette advert will have the same success as Nike or Iceland. So far it’s not looking too good for the razor company, with professionals and consumers calling the advert a ‘suicidal move.’

However, Gillette, along with Nike and Iceland are definitely not the first (or last) companies to jump into the unpredictable waters of social media debate for commercial gain. This seems to just be the beginning – other brands should take note.

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