The Best?

By Lloyd Graff

The use of advertising slogans must be as old as advertising itself. But if you are like me, most slogans are immediately forgotten if they were ever remembered in the first place.

But what if you take note of a slogan because it offends you. I thought of this a couple of days ago watching the new Gillette ad, which emphasizes the prowess of American manufacturing and even showed a man working at what appeared to be a Bridgeport mill.

And then the slick TV ad ended with the hackneyed old Gillette slogan “the best a man can get.” It struck me that it was not only an anachronism but it can be offensive to both women and men.

A little context. Gillette which is now a division of Procter and Gamble, was asleep at the switch as Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s attacked them on price and coolness. The beard trend in men also hurt them. For many years Gillette was a cash cow that barely had to advertise. It owned the shelves at drug stores and supermarkets, but the upstarts saw sticker shock on $5 razor cartridges and $25 packages of blades.

Social media and internet sales punctured Gillette’s sense of invulnerability. The company woke up and started buying slots on the declining NFL games, just what an old sluggish brand with a big ad budget might do. But every ad still ends with “The best a man can get.”

Business has really started to deteriorate for Gillette and they finally decided to address it, by taking out ads saying customers were leaving Harry’s in droves after trying it. That approach ended up as a PR disaster for Gillette because it was both false and also gave Harry’s tremendous visibility. Gillette came off as a slobbering bully.

Courtesy of April 10, 2017

Now Gillette is discounting its blades and has begun a subscription plan, imitating its competitors.

What bugs me about the Gillette slogan is that it strikes me as so yesterday and obviously sexist. And clearly stupid. The implication is that Gillette isn’t the best product, it’s just “the best a man can get.” Presumably a woman would buy a better razor.

Other interpretations of the slogan can also be made, which some will find offensive. What shocks me is that a company like Proctor and Gamble that makes billions of dollars on Tide, can be so utterly tone deaf in an age of sensitized gender identity.

I can only surmise that owning Playtex and selling cosmetics and tampons has not made the corporate types in Cincinnati more astute, or even politically correct.

For the guys who make the ad decisions at Gillette, the results must seem like, well, “the best a man can get.”

Question: Have you abandoned “big brands” for niche products?

The Gillette ad that backfired

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9 thoughts on “The Best?

    1. Mindy Mikami

      I am literally eating tuna fish while reading this. I almost spit the food out of my mouth! Thanks for the laugh!

  1. Carol

    Dear Lloyd,
    This comment is about a previous blog – you recommended Nanette’s Baguette and Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs so I bought them for our 5 year old grandson’s birthday. We just gave them to him this past weekend and our son read them both to all of us for the first time. We enjoyed them so much and I know they will be read many, many times to Sammy and his 2 younger brothers. Thanks for your interesting and thoughtful comments on so many various topics. I am interested to know what you think – because you are a thinker and you make me think too. All the very best!

  2. Art Santana

    It was a case of obvious underestimation. Or they just were so arrogant to see that Harrys is actually pretty good. In our business side of the archery world, we have a policy of never attacking the competition; we actually embrace great competitors, learn from them and try to stay ahead of them. We allow them to come see our operation even though most of them will not allow us to see theirs. Just let quality and innovation speak for themselves and let the chips fall where they may. I left the Gillet brand a long time ago because there are similar or better substitutes at much better prices.

  3. Rod Brower

    Some of us don’t buy Canned Tuna Fish out here in the West,
    We go catch it fresh.
    It just isn’t the same.

  4. Lloyd Graff

    Thank you Carol. The text in those Mo Willems books is hilarious and the illustrations are marvelous. I embellish my reading with over the top dramatic touches which leaves my grand daughters usually laughing loudly. They now finish the books for me, which just adds to the fun.
    I hope I keep giving you fresh stuff more than half of the time. Lloyd

  5. Mark

    Price of razor blades is horific, using single blader now an works as good, just a fraction on the cost. Found out my vitamin D-3 was really rat poison and immediately chunked it in trash. It pays in more ways than we can count to research everything involving our family, these forums help allot on so many levels. Thank you Lloyd.

  6. Kim

    A sexist ad for razors isn’t surprising since there have been a number of publicized instances where the pink razors marketed to women are priced higher than the blue ones for men (though it isn’t clear if that’s an issue of the manufacturer or the store.)

    As for offensive advertising slogan, I will always change the radio station when I hear the ad for the “Top gun DUI defense attorney” who says, “…because a DUI can happen to anyone.” Sorry, that’s not true. It can’t happen to anyone. It can only happen to those people who choose to drink and then drive.

  7. Chuck Schultz

    Companies advertise for several reasons. Attracting customers is only one of them. After Irv the Liquidator bought Pabst he slashed advertising on the assumption that “everyone knows about us.” Within months long time customers started to drift away thinking they were no longer wanted. Other companies, like GE advertise to run up their stock price.Few TV viewers are going to buy a locomotive or a jet engine. TV ads cost money; either your product is highly profitable or you are desperate to build your brand.
    Gillette and other razor makers have priced themselves out of many consumers’ comfort zone and all the feel good ads in the world won’t change that.


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