Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Gillette’s Innovative Advertising Strategy Cuts Both Ways

(I know, I know.)

Gillette is getting yelled at on that place where people yell at companies (Twitter). And it’s pretty much all their fault.

They chose to promote tweets which criticised their competitor and praised Gillette. Problem is, it wasn’t just any competitor. It was much-loved, up-and-coming challenger brand Dollar Shave Club.

(Now where have I heard insightful commentary about them before?)

Attacking a small, popular challenger brand without looking mean-spirited and insecure is a difficult feat. Frankly, it’s virtually impossible. No one reads the story of David and Goliath and thinks “man, it would have been cool if the big guy had squished David”. Everyone, up to and including AdWeek, has piled on them in response.

So not the best move for Gillette, image-wise.

But I wanted to flag something else about this.

That one initiative was certainly a bad idea. But the fact that Gillette are experimenting with unusual marketing ideas in this way is genuinely commendable. If they hadn’t chosen to use it in a negative way, that concept – promoting and supporting tweets about their brand – could have been an extremely powerful, authentic way to get attention.

And it’s this willingness to play around with formats and try unconventional ideas that stands them in good stead in the social media age.

For a more effective example, try their viral campaign in China. By faking a (barely) risqué “candid” film with Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan, they created a tension, a buzz around their category and their product that had huge implications for their sales.

If you’re sitting there thinking that maybe that’s just Chinese people being silly and gullible, you’d be wrong.

(And also kind of racist. Come on reader. What would your mother think?)

Apart from anything else, there was a smaller but similar example made with tennis player Roger Federer not so long ago. 

And it took a very long time for it to come out that the stunt was faked. It looks real. It's unexpected. It's cool. Much like the X-Files, we want to believe.

Now, is hoodwinking the audience the right thing to do? Questionable. But it’s also pretty harmless in a situation like this.

(I mean, who ever got hurt by a razor?)

And beyond all those questions lies this one:

In this roiling media landscape, how can you hope to survive without trying to innovate?

Innovation means a willingness to make the odd misstep. It means risking, taking leaps, trying every option. It means walking in stupid. Creating interesting, playful films like "100 Years of Hair", also featured here a while back.

Does it always work out? Of course not. But inaction for fear of making a misstep – that’s a misstep in of itself. Better to reach out and burn your fingers than stay back and get cold.

And if you need a good shave – well, you’d better not be afraid of cutting yourself.

If you've enjoyed this article, why not share it on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? It helps me grow, and you get to look like an informed, thoughtful and stylish professional. Nice one reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment