Surfing the social waves push sometimes the brands into deep waters.
Both Gillette and AeroMexico embraced a big cause and try to change the current perceptions. A highly respectable discourse. #Gillette talks about #metoo, sexual harassment and bulling. #AeroMexico approaches another big subject, about the love-hate relationship between the Americans and Mexican people.
Both tick the “higher goals” objectives, a mantra that every decent marketeer and agency understood they must pursuit to improve consumer relevance. Still, these two campaign cannot be more different.
Gillette – Is this the best man can get? triggered disputes and controversies.
Let’s look a bit more into detail. It’s a classic “this is what we believe in” ad. Has a deep voice about challenging toxicity, having accountability, taking a stand and acting instead of finding excuses. Nothing to complain about. I am quite sure that P&G (the company that owns Gillette) verified it carefully in research and tested well, otherwise it wouldn’t be aired at all.
Except it is dull and expected advertising. Done in the old way, showing “slices of life” and bringing a preaching brand attitude, that show people what and how to do.
You cannot blame them, it is the company ideology that worked for more than a century: problem – brand introduction – reason to believe – benefit – celebration and appreciation. This school of marketing allowed P&G to build household powerhouse brands like Ariel, Tide or Mr. Proper. However the new generation moved forward, became much more sophisticated and this approach has nothing to do with regular people anymore, but just with the old school marketeers.
Surfing a social wave can be tricky. Just ask Pepsi about Kendall Jenner ad. It is always about brand equity, credibility and its perceived goals. Remember that strategy is a bridge that unites the brand with its customers. The customers signals when a particular brand topic is shaky and out of its regular areas.
In this case, marketeers could probably still consider that Gillette is a symbol of masculinity; but the real surprise is that many people do not believe this anymore. And this is the real issue. People reaction is linked with the Gillette lack of authority to tackle the #metoo subject, being a topic outside of its competency. And beside sponsoring this campaign, what was their real role?
Just look around and ask yourself if the once thriving razor business can make the bridge towards the new generations. The product is out of fashion with the current times where masculinity doesn’t start by shaving the first thing in the morning. Without a pivot, the Gillette brand can become the next Polaroid.
In contrast we can learn from the AeroMexico DNA campaign.
It also approached a high social wave, a trending subject which can be even more dividing: Americans desire to keep Mexicans far away. And they took it in a head-on approach in a “we are the same” campaign.
But they did it in a really smart way. Convivial, relaxed, without pretending to solve all the social issues, or pointing different fingers. Blended the humour with rational elements – like human DNA tests. Avoided to be preaching, letting viewers to make their own mental connections.
Do you like Tequila? Yes! Do you like Burrito! Yes! Do you like Mexico? No!
Cannot be more memorable. They managed to bring the subject within their field of authority and scope of work. It was not just advertising. They offered something to their customers, even it was just a discount based on DNA similarities. And this became the hook of the campaign.
AeroMexico blended naturally in the story. It was their play.