Corporate advertisers traditionally flatter potential customers, assuring them with gratifying images that the mere choice of the given product proves that the customer is handsome, sophisticated, successful, desirable to beautiful women, capable of appreciating, and worthy of, the best things.
My own favorite examples would be Paul Gerding’s Duesenberg ads that ran in upscale magazines like Vanity Fair and The Sportsman in the 1930s.
But Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette brand director for North America, decided a different approach was needed to cement the company’s ties to Pabst-swilling, tattooed, and pussified millennial metrosexuals. (He seems not to have noticed that they are usually bearded.)
The shaving giant Gillette knew that its new ad addressing the #MeToo movement would be divisive. But the brand still went ahead with it hoping to appeal to future generations of customers.
The ad is part of a broader brand repositioning that turns Gillette’s 30-year-old tagline, “The Best a Man Can Get,” on its head, making it a call for men to take an inward look and placing the onus on them to be the best versions of themselves.
Pankaj Bhalla, the brand director for Gillette and Venus, called it “a statement of self-reflection” from the brand.
Gillette first started brainstorming the repositioning last spring, and it ran several qualitative tests before running it.
Gillette was well aware that its new ad would ruffle some feathers.
But it still went ahead with it because it felt it needed to reposition itself to continue to resonate with the next generation of its customers and wanted to leverage its position as a 117-year-old brand and a market leader to spark dialogue.
“We knew that this particular commercial would trigger a conversation,” Pankaj Bhalla, the brand director for Gillette and Venus, told Business Insider. “The idea was to get people thinking, because the belief was that good advertising does trigger a healthy debate.”
Skeptics are doubtless snapping up Unilever stock (owner of Dollar Shave Club), but there is, after all, nothing new under the sun.
Pankaj Bhalla, armed with a Bachelor degree (Hons.) in Commerce and Business Economics, 2000, from Hyderabad, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Brand Management from Ahmedabad, 2003, must have deduced that today’s rising generation in America resembles in some uncanny way the generation coming of age in New England in the 1740s, another time in which people desired not to be flattered and praised, but threatened and abused.
The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you were suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that Godâ€™s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.
O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.