Gillette Takes a Stand: Toxic Masculinity and #thebestmencanbe (Simplified Chinese version)
(6 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
In early January 2019, Gillette, one of the world’s leading razor brands, ignited controversy with a specific advertisement—the “We Believe” video. This short film tackled toxic masculinity and encouraged men to be #TheBestMenCanBe. While Gillette historically focused on portraying men as athletes or as career-oriented individuals, the brand's promotions since the late 2010s had turned to a more diverse conceptualization of manhood. When launched on YouTube, the "We Believe" video proved to be extremely polarizing: both consumers and the general public were strongly divided on it. How could Gillette support social change while remaining competitive in light of the changing industry and broader social awareness? Though sales did not change following the release of the ad, questions still remained about Gillette’s new direction and whether this approach ultimately helped or hindered its brand. What should Gillette do next?
This case is suitable for use in both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on introductory marketing, marketing strategy, and consumer behaviour. Modules specific to advertising, ethical issues in marketing, social marketing, macromarketing, gender and marketing, or marketing and society are particularly applicable. The case is also suitable as an exercise in product (re)positioning. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to
- evaluate the main issues facing players in the men’s razor and razor blade industry;
- assess Gillette’s promotions, including the company’s progression over time and its recent controversial “WeBelieve” ad;
- provide recommendations for Gillette’s future promotional efforts; and
- examine the role of business in supporting and reflecting social change, including from an ethical perspective.
United States, Large, 2019
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