Gillette CEO Gary Coombe said he does not regret his company’s controversial marketing campaign targeted at the #MeToo movement even though the company has taken an $8 billion hit.
Coombe called it a “price worth paying” in a Monday interview with Marketing Week. Procter & Gamble, the parent company of Gillette, announced Tuesday they had taken over $5 billion in losses for the quarter, after Gillette had an $8 billion noncash writedown. P&G led by Gillette has seen its market share for razors fall over the last three years.
Coombe admitted #MeToo ad the company put out in January was a ploy to capture market share among millennials, a space in which they were losing market share to Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club
In January, Gillette ran the short film “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” which took on “toxic masculinity” and the #MeToo movement. Some criticized the ad for “virtue signaling” and making broad generalizations about male behavior. In May, Gillette also ran an ad depicting a man teaching his transgender son how to shave for the first time.
“It was pretty stark: we were losing share, we were losing awareness and penetration, and something had to be done,” he said, adding they decided to “take a chance in an emotionally-charged way.”
Coombe admitted the work ended up to be more controversial with more “intense” backlash then he originally anticipated but said it was “less provocative” than other versions they had created.
“I don’t enjoy that some people were offended by the film and upset at the brand as a consequence. That’s not nice and goes against every ounce of training I’ve had in this industry over a third of a century,” he said. “But I am absolutely of the view now that for the majority of people to fall more deeply in love with today’s brands you have to risk upsetting a small minority and that’s what we’ve done.”
Besides, they have new customers now, it’s not just men’s beards anymore. The majority of their sales now go to women’s razors as the trend to shave the vagina is taking off!
“It Takes a sharp but restrained razor to quaff my quimm, but the Gillette Women’s Wacker with blade guards does a perfect job again and again”
Gary Coombe, then President-P&G Europe SMO and now President-P&G Global Grooming, is praised in the publication for his active leadership on diversity and inclusion as executive sponsor for P&G Europe’s Diversity & Inclusion, Gender Equality and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT+) Affinity networks and support programmes as well as championing the company’s engagement with the ‘Men Advocating Real Change’ initiative.
“We’re the new PINK MEN of America” replied one dandy dressed in pink and skinny jeans, “And we will fight for women’s recognition”
Management Today notes the progress P&G has made towards gender parity, with women now making up 45% of all managers in P&G Europe and praises Gary Coombe for his efforts through media articles, industry conferences and leading P&G’s delegation at the International Women’s Forum in Paris to encourage other companies to follow P&G’s example in “not just advancing gender equality in their organisations but using the power of their brands and advertising to encourage progress in society.”
The power list, published by Management Today in partnership with the Women’s Business Council, argues that it’s not just up to women to #PressForProgress and so shines a spotlight on the ‘Man-Bassadors‘ who are championing gender equality and challenging the status quo.
Commenting on the recognition, Gary said:“I’m very proud to be included in the list. We all have a role to play in striving for Gender Equality and it is in everyone’s interest that we get there as quickly as possible. This is really recognition for all the outstanding work done by P&G people across Europe and around the world to advance gender equality in and outside of P&G, who I have the honour to work with and represent.”