Gillette could salvage their Be Better campaign by showing social heart

As a freelance Social Media Consultant, I’m interested in what makes a campaign work (or not work) in social. Inspired by International Women’s Day (can we make it all of March?), I’ve had a look at Gillette’s effort to call out ‘toxic masculinity’ – their Best a Man Can Becampaign. A contentious ad promoting male role-modelling, it’s continuing the #metoo conversation (always welcomed) but not showing them to be as genuine as they would’ve liked, especially when contrasted against Nike’s Dream Crazy and Dream Crazier. Although Gillette have struggled to be authentic with this campaign, they can salvage their position by using social media to wear their heart on their sleeve throughout their three year investment – campaigning for ‘everyday change’.

First hurdle: Can you ‘be’ and ‘get’ at the same time?

Gillette have stated “we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man” but plenty of people are sceptical.

I don’t believe #Gillette care about violence against women, they just wanna look woke.

Gillette’s The Best a Man can ‘Be’ is a big move away from ‘Get’. ‘Be’ is meditative, a big jump from the more aggressive meaning of get, to take or grab, or when belittling someone by referencing their self-belief, get him. In the video, kids smash through the old fashioned ‘get’ tagline and yet Gillette still use it sign off their pledge. This contradiction undercuts the authenticity for the audience and the ‘get’ tagline dropped from sight when using ‘be’.

There is a petition with almost 17k signatures asking “Gillette to stop sponsoring Gillette Stadium, the home stadium for the New England Patriots — owned by Robert Kraft, who was just arrested during a human trafficking sting operation”. For Gillette to clarify what ‘the best a man can be’ means in practice, they need to show how to walk the walk.

Second hurdle: Gillette’s social channels

Gillette use the same organic posts across all their social profiles without any consideration of the platforms’ functionalities or audiences. On the pledge website page, the call-to-action to follow calls out Instagram (IG), Facebook (FB) and YouTube (YT).

With a high amount of views, it looks as though Gillette put some budget behind promoting the ad upon launch on FB and YT. Ongoing on FB, Gillette is replying to the positive messages in the comments of the grant winners’ posts, showing a good engagement tactic. A more comprehensive customer service team is used for Twitter (TW).

IG has the same few posts on the campaign and grant winners – mixed up with other campaigns. There isn’t much to distinguish the posts visually from other campaign images in the tile layout. The only highlight is for a $5 off promotion and the only IGTV video is in landscape (WTF?!) on yet another campaign. IG needs a visual style that is on brand and includes the campaign hashtag to call it out from the rest if it’s going to be mixed in amongst other campaigns.

On YT the pledge playlist has a few versions of the ad, nothing of the grant winners as there is no video content of them. The 2 min version of the campaign ad has almost 30m views and has attracted 1.4m dislikes and only 778k likes. Most of the uprated comments are negative and Gillette isn’t responding.

They’re deleting comments almost as fast as they’re deleting customers.

What to do? A suggested social strategy

As they have not pulled the ad, as Pepsi did with ‘Kendall Jenner joins a protest march’, and with $1m a year in US grants over 3 years, the campaign has more legs and opportunities for delivering great social media content while showing a commitment to the campaign promise.

A social media approach to combat the negative commentary and convince audiences of the brand’s belief in the #metoo movement through everyday change would be to work with The Best a Man Can Be grant winners to create roughly edited and some self-shot videos and build a FB video strategy for positive brand-purpose awareness.

  • Give the grant winners guidance and support to create videos for Gillette to brand and promote for engagements to a few carefully crafted custom audiences. Review the most popular ads for negative or positive engagements. This will help clarify which profile characteristics generate more positive engagements.
  • Throughout these reviews, a test-and-learn approach will uncover Gillette’s key audience characteristics for positive engagement, building lookalike audiences off them, and finessing which videos and stories work best – offering more specific guidance for grant video content creators as Gillette works through the 3 years of the grant. Sharing the daily struggles and small wins of the grant winners will keep the ‘everyday change’ feel of the campaign.
  • Once you’ve got your successful formula for audience identification and video creation you would branch out to test other social platforms with content suitable to each platform. Office-setting grant winners content for LinkedIn (LI), newsworthy, diversity or environmental winners for TW, artistic winners on IG, hilarious and odd-ball winners for Snapchat (SC). IG would be the obvious first choice to reach a younger audience and I would suggest starting here.

Stage two would be an FB and IG stories retargeting their core engagers, those who’ve watched more than 25% to 50% of the videos, with a competition that encourages people to use the #BestaManCanBe hashtag to win prizes by sharing positive role-modelling examples. [By targeting a qualified audience from stage one, entries should be much more positive than negative but community management will be needed to monitor entries and comments.]

  • The entry requirements would be to create a short video showing your personal, your partner’s, parents, or your community’s effort supporting male role-modelling in under 2 mins, sharing it tagging @Gillette and #BestaManCanBe in FB or IG.
  • Weekly prizes would be product giveaways – 3 month subscriptions (for men and women), and Gillette product hampers (mix of both men’s and women’s products).
  • Winners and notable videos to be shared organically in FB, IG, and a playlist created on YT. [IG would need an overhaul with proper use of highlights and IGTV – See Nike’s 😍]

This will help spread belief in Gillette’s commitment to the campaign to those most likely to positively engage.

But really, first things first, women’s razors should be the same price as men’s!

Reach out if you’d like ask for advice for your social campaign.

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