A few weeks ago, it was perhaps no surprise to see companies gearing up for Father’s Day in the UK, with PR stories like this:
Barack Obama and Muhammad Ali beaten by dad in poll of UK male role models
A string of sporting heroes, Hollywood actors and high-profile figures have all taken a backseat in a study of male role models – which was topped by dear old dad.
A poll of 2,000 UK men found one in four named their father as their top role model, ahead of Barack Obama , Muhammad Ali and Bobby Moore.
Men also voted their grandad into third place, with Winston Churchill the only famous figure to rank higher.Source: Mirror, 5th June 2019
Who were the company who wanted to remind you that dads are the best a man can get?
The study was commissioned by Gillette to launch #MyRoleModel, a campaign which celebrates fathers and recognises other important role models who help shape and make men be the best they can be.
To drive the brand message home, we can see that the accompanying photo shows Ian Wright, ambassador of Gillette’s new campaign, putting his Gillette razer to use.
To be fair to Ian Wright, the quote he provides (or at least puts his name to) in the press release expresses some commendable sentiments:
Ian Wright, who worked with Gillette, said: “This Father’s Day I’m grateful to the men who helped me become who I am today.
“These men encouraged me to be the best I can be and I enjoy the responsibility that comes with being a role model and passing on what I’ve learned to the next generation, whether that’s my children, my community or some of the footballers I speak to who are now experiencing what I did in my professional career.
“I always encourage them to be the best version of themselves, no matter what that may be.”
It’s encouraging to see sensitivity and responsibility as prominent messages to men today, and this isn’t the first time Gillette has taken a stand against toxic masculinity – they notably ran an advert earlier this year which encouraged men to eschew sexist and predatory behaviour, and to be better versions of themselves.
The backlash the advert received is in itself a demonstration of how vital that message is… however, it’s hard for an experienced critic of the PR world to see this as an entirely altruistic campaign. It’s equally likely that Gillette’s PR team have realised there’s money to be made in being on the right side of history, and their new-found sensitivity is more of a marketing look than a genuine core value of their brand.
Time will tell whether Gillette keep pursuing a progressive and positive message in the long term, or whether they revert to old, reliable tropes of commercialised masculinity.