Got the following email from MNB reader Tom Hahn about the Gillette “be a better man” commercial:

Kevin, if Gillette really wanted to sell more razors – instead of simply talking a side on a popular issue among the SJW crowd - they would put together an ad campaign celebrating men who meet whatever standards they claim men are not living up to.

When is that campaign coming out? I’m not holding my breath.

They have committed “retail hari-kari” – an unforced error – can you imagine the heat a P&G rep will take the next time they sit down with the Shave Category Manager at Kroger or Wal-Mart? In a category where retail grocery is already being decimated by the on-line shave clubs, this campaign does nothing to help the retailer capture lost sales. This is the retail version of the old saying “death by a thousand cuts”; it can only drive more consumers away from buying Gillette products at their local grocery or mass store. Really, how many consumers will be driven by this ad to say “I guess I’ll drop my Harry’s membership and start buying Gillette products at XYZ Grocers again”?

If they really want to have a conversation, they would present both sides of an issue. Alas, I don’t think they are interested in conversation; they just want everyone to know where they stand. Not that I’m a big consumer of P&G products, but I’ll go out of my way now to let them know where I stand.

I was with you - not necessarily agreeing with you, but certainly understanding your perspective - until you said that “they would present both sides of an issue.” I’m not sure what the other side of this issue is … are we really going to argue that some men - not all, but certainly a percentage, and a group defined by the fact that they have power - are not guilty of the kind of bad behavior illustrated in the Gillette ad?

I do believe that sometimes we go too far in the “both sides of the issue” approach … sometimes, facts are facts. Gillette certainly has put a target on its back - and front - with this ad, and whether this was a good idea for any business is a legitimate subject for debate and discussion.

The opposing argument is that we live in a world where purpose-based companies are respected, not vilified. Where Gillette’s approach falls apart for me is that I am not really convinced that its purpose is anything more than to sell more razors and blades in a competitive environment in which it has been disrupted. But, I do respect the initiative, I think the commercial’s message has merit, and I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. Now, I want to see what they do next … was this a one-off, or is it part of something larger?