Case Study: Gillette’s viral ad bombs

This week’s case study: Gillette

Type: Viral ad

Title: “Young Guns”

Rating: C

Brief: This video’s main theme or gimmick is the mullet – the classic symbol of the 1980s “business in the front, party in the back” sensibility of which we have thankfully been separated for nearly two decades. A man in a barber shop (or man-salon?) finds himself the unwitting new owner of this retro do, surrounded by other “macho” men who all insist on the mullet’s return to fashion stardom. When he refuses to believe that mullets are indeed “back in” (keep in mind, he is residing in the fictional “Mullet Nation”), his comrades conveniently slide in the fact that he can believe in Gillette’s close shave. At which point, consumers are prompted to try Gillette and become believers.

Analysis: Not really sure what to say to this, except, WHY?

Gillette (and the creative agency, BBDO) has gotten a lot of guff about using the mullet motif. Ad Age called them “behind the times and unimaginative.” I can’t agree with this completely because there are certainly spins and approaches that would have made the ad work while focusing on the mullet. Using a well-known satirical symbol that your target audience can recognize is not a bad thing in itself. Creating a shock point – or hinging on the unbelievable – is smart. There’s so much they could have done with the mullet – so many directions to go in at the expense of this hairstyle. In other words, it had potential. The way Gillette’s spot was executed, however, was disappointing. The ad leaves you scratching your head and wondering why this was even produced. In everyman’s terms, the ad is, well, dumb.

So how could they have done it better? How could they have used these mulleted men to make a statement that actually says something and means something, and that people might actually remember five minutes after watching it? You can still be creative, but make it relevant. Answer the WHY. And that answer is a clean, close, comfortable shave that women can’t resist.

How about this premise: Maybe all of these men with mullets can’t keep the ladies away because they have such close, smooth shaves, thanks to Gillette.

Now we’re positioning a product! It still uses their beloved mullet and is creative, but in a more powerful way than the convenient, “you may not believe that, but you can believe this…” Remember guys, we’re trying to create an identity and push a product here.

So what do you think? How would you rate Gillette’s viral video?

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