Sunday, 15 June 2014

Reverse engineering the Gillette Manscaping video

In my last post, I wrote about the idea of celebrating the bottom of the ad barrel with a series of posts. Yesterday I spent some time looking for a number of ads, wondering where to find these ads and how to evaluate what would be worth writing about while struggling to keep my eyes open watching one boring ad after another. In hindsight perhaps not the best use of two hours of free weekend time...

This made me think of a slightly different approach because there's no hope for any kind of objectivity in this exercise. I'll primarily try to keep note of ads I'm shown in Youtube pre-rolls that bore or irritate me, and I'll talk about them in the blog while attempting to recreate the creative brief that could have led to the creation of the ad. Of course everything I'll be writing in these kinds of posts is humorous parody (hopefully, mostly).

Without further ado, let's talk about this series of Gillette videos. I was shown this one in pre-roll:

I was not too happy to watch this ad again, but in the spirit and intention of benefiting the rest of humanity with marketing pseudo-science, I did anyways. I still remember being shown this ad on Youtube, of course while trying to watch another ad. They use the first five seconds before users can skip the ad effectively to capture the male users' attention, like blasting full fog lights from the speeding Gillette road train to the unsuspecting stag quietly crossing the road.

'Hey guys, I know there's a lot of rumours out there flying around about body-trimming' - 3 seconds in.

The poor target is hooked. As a naive consumer the questions immediately come to mind: Who is this guy and why does he look bare chested? Is he in a shower? Why is he talking to me like I'm his friend? Am I friends with this guy? Am I in the bathroom with him? Are there really rumours flying around about body-trimming? Should I know about them? Am I out of the loop? Why does he look so creepy?

The paralysis and horror shape up for the following few seconds. I don't skip the ad, I just viscerally need to understand why this person wants to tell me about chest shaving so badly. And maybe there's something I should know about it. We're at 15 seconds in the video. My finger is ready to click the skip button on my mouse but I can't seem to. 18 seconds. Now he's caressing his chest hair. This is really weird. His goatee is weird too. He's basically just taken a whole minute pretending to teach me something but telling me I can use shaving gel and start shaving / trimming under the shower. I'm pretty sure I knew that. I stopped before the end of the long video the first time, but the memory will be there forever and I would like to share it with you.

Let's analyse it a bit further, we'll go through the usual steps and imagine what the creative brief might have looked like. The creative brief is the document that usually leads to the advertising idea and execution for an ad like this one, it typically has the following elements:

Business context and objective:

While Gillette are usually content with getting the male audience excited about their new products by borrowing visual tropes from high end luxury and sports car adverts, this time they would like to create a meaningful and lasting personal connection with the guys. Plus they need to sell a huge bunch of trimmers, and if more men shaved more hair in more places, they would obviously buy more blades.

Target audience:

Men, ideally of the young Millennial variety but we'll talk about 18-45 years old to be on the safe side. Most of them shave, and even bearded hipsters trim. Plus a recent survey mentioned in Cosmopolitan states that 95% of men now 'manscape' so it is widely known and accepted.

Audience insight:

Given 95% of young men already manscape, the leftover 5% probably need help to figure it out. Also men really appreciate being told how to do stuff like shaving, many would like the idea of a shaving companion with them in the bathroom.

Single-minded message:

Gillette is men's friendly manscaping confidant.


- Perhaps a series of videos, like on Youtube, there are plenty of 'how to' videos
- Feature creepy guys inviting the unsuspecting watcher in their shower
- These could be actually pretty useful and informative videos for those who have questions about manscaping, but we'd like to make sure we remove useful information from the video in order to amp up the personal connection opportunities. For example, some men might have legitimate questions about shaving with or against the grain; do not answer those or provide an opinion. It's a trap.
- Ensure the media plan reaches people at strange times. If advertising on Youtube, no frequency cap required.

I'll finish with my actual opinion about the ad and a question. Overall I think there might be a decent idea in there somewhere but it's badly executed. I started watching a few other videos in the series and didn't find them any better.

I find the guys featured creepy, is it me or do others think that too?

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