Ad Break

I've had conversations about advertising towards men on two separate occasions recently, so it was with interest I followed the link from Kottke's site to a BBC article about how 'Men are tired of their portrayal in advertising.'

There seems to be at least as many stereotypes for men as women in advertising, many of them aren't flattering, not that it's ever bothered me. This is a slightly different topic to what I've had discussions about, which revolved around the way companies use words in advertising men's products, specifically, the Gillette Mach 3 razor.

I'm not going to go into the history of the Mach 3 razor because a) I don't know it and can't be bothered to look it up and, b) I highly doubt it's of any interest to most people. Suffice to say the model went Mach 3, then the Mach 3 Turbo and culminates in the recently released M3 Power Nitro (see comparison chart below).

Gillete Mach 3 Comparison

What we were all discussing was the low regard advertising execs have for the average man. I mean, you can imagine the meetings:

Gillette employ Genius Marketing, Inc, for the launch of the new and improved Mach 3 razor.

Team Leader: Right, lads, Gillette are launching a new version of the successful Mach 3 razor for men and we've been asked to come up with a new name and ad campaign for it. Here's a few samples to take a look at.

He hands round a few samples to the all-male team of top-dog marketing professionals.

Team Leader: Okay, so, any thoughts?

Ad Exec #1: Er, it looks just like the last one, doesn't it? What have they changed.

Team Leader: Well that goes to show what you know. They've added a whole five extra microfins, made the blades even smoother so they provide less friction and that crappy moisturising strip that wears out in a week, well, now it lasts a whole extra day. They've also redesigned the handle to make it more ergonomic and check out the new black and silver colour scheme, that's what everyone is looking for these days, the target market is going to love it.

Ad Exec #2: So that's all of the changes? They haven't added an extra blade like those guys at Wilkinson Sword? That really was genius, why shave with three blades when you can shave with four?

Team Leader: What are you talking about? This is all-new, it's a stunning shaving device. And need I remind you that Gillette are one of the biggest advertisers in the business, if we do this right we're gonna land some seriously big contracts. Right, who wants to take it?

Silence.

Ad Exec #3: I'll take it.

Execs #1 and #2 are stunned.

Team Leader: Well done, I look forward to having your proposal on my desk first thing Monday.

As they exit, Execs #1 and #2 corner #3.

Ad Exec #2: You do realise it's impossible, you'll never out-do the original work and not on a product with no real changes.

Ad Exec #3 promptly does nothing for the rest of the week. On Friday afternoon, #1 and #2 come to see him.

Ad Exec #1: So, we hear you're struggling with this Mach 3 thing.

Ad Exec #3: Not really, I haven't even started it yet.

Ad Exec #2: We've heard you've been in meetings all week, what have you been doing?

Ad Exec #3: Playing golf, mainly, working on my swing, taking some attractive women to lunch on the company, that sort of thing.

Ad Exec #1: What! You're so fired.

Exec 3 sits smugly.

Ad Exec #2: Okay, so what are you planning?

Ad Exec #3: Simple, I'm going to propose a name change.

Ad Exec #1: That's suicide, it's an established brand, they'll never go for it.

Ad Exec #2: (thinks he's got it) What to?

Ad Exec #3: The Mach 3 Turbo.

Ad Exec #1: (stunned) That's... That's...

Ad Exec #2: ...genius. Remember me when you make assistant director.

I'm not kidding, how easy do they think it is? Men like powerful sounding things, masculine things, cars, boats, planes, gadgets. So they think all they need is the addition of the word Turbo and we'd storm out to buy it. And it continues. So successful was it, (this is a razor remember, no moving parts, how the hell Turbo comes anywhere near it I'm not sure) that they decided to go one better with the latest addition: the M3 Power Nitro.

Again, the reference to cars, and this time the addition of the word 'Power' because, let's face facts, every man wants to be powerful, certainly every Gillette man. Unfortunately it made the whole thing a mouthful, so they dropped the Mach down to just M, and M3 has automotive connotations too.

I reckon they were under threat from the Wilkinson Sword four blade razor (another bit of genius: 'right, Gillette are running away with the market with their three blade razor, what are we going to do?' 'How about we make a razor with four blades, four blades has to be better that three?') so they pulled out all the stops. That's why the new razor has a battery with Micro-Power techology (a little battery that causes it to vibrate so the hairs stand straight and tall, apparently), they now have PowerGlide blades (even sharper, even less friction), the handle has been redesigned again to make it even more ergonomic and, most important of all, it comes in a totally cool green and black colour scheme. I mean, it just screams at you to rush out and buy it.

They really did out-do themselves here, how many times have they got Power into the description? Not to mention that word: Nitro. Superb. And Black and Green, well, that is just it. Totally it. I bet Gillette were overwhelmed and the marketing company rested well, happy chugging beer and toking on fat cigars. They really earned their money on this one.

Wow.

So there we go, that's how to market to men. Just keep your eye out for the 3000 GT Injection toothbrushes, the Super Mega Power Spray de-odourant and the Jet-powered Sex-magnet aftershave.

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