Gillette’s “We believe: the best a man can be” leads the way, or not really?

January 30, 2019 | Femke van Loon

We started this year with the disruptive film from Gillette that arouses many controversial discussions, and got us sparked into thinking.

As parents, of 14 years old twin girls (Femke) and 13 year old boy (Joyshree) we ask ourselves how we are raising our kids in perspective to their gender. And we both agreed straightaway that the ambition of this campaign is to change stereotypes and to nudge behaviors that are inclusive, non-judgemental and respectful, both for boys and girls. If we can significantly influence how future men and women will deal with one another, #metoo will hopefully be history and forgotten.

At Innate Motion, as #BusinessHumanizers, we help companies and brands to grow in a meaningful way. We help position brands around a purpose because we believe that this is the only way to create positive impact. If we want purpose to be more than just a nice vision statement on paper, we need to define a cultural enemy we want to fight because it becomes a barrier to our purpose. Gillette inspired us because it has defined a very clear enemy which is “toxic masculinity”. Now the one thing that will make a brand purpose actionable is to express a clear point of view, and to accept that whilst some will love you for what you say, others will hate you (e.g. see Nike’s Kaepernick’s ad, Coca-Cola’s “America is Beautiful” ad). “Be the best a man can be” evokes strong reactions because it addresses how we desire to deal will male identity and masculine role models. It wants us to take a stance.

Feelings aside, this ad encapsulates three vital principles of brand engagement that all purpose brand leaders can apply:

  1. Everybody is talking about it. It touches real life and an issue with which all of us are personally involved. It touches our nerves. And it takes a stand. In times where the younger generations favour brands and companies that participate in cultural debates and value shifts, this is what is required to grow brand love. And the fact that many literally hate it is a good thing, because it means that there is a true, spiky, bold point of view.
  2. It inspires a behaviour change.  An invitation to turn from a passive bystander into an active citizen. An easy act anybody can do. Empowering every man to step into the shoes of the change agent. To be the change they want to see in the world. It reaches out to the world to create a movement for a better society.
  3. It is authentic and long-term. Not only is Gillette THE brand representing masculinity and male values, the team behind the brand comes across as solid and very well prepared. Their announcement for long-term commitment to the cause (1million dollars a year in the US) and key NGOs on the ground signals they are in this for real.

As a marketing community, let’s be ready for a year with more authentic, disruptive, culture-shifting brands and their brilliant movement-building work.

We are happy to hear your candid thoughts and emotions because the debate will make us more empathetic to one another.

Femke Van Loon and Joyshree Reinelt | Founding Partners and Business Humanizers


Posted By Femke van Loon

Femke is a natural initiator who loves to be involved in new adventures. She grew up in the Netherlands and at the age of 18 she decided to move to Italy. She co-created a café while studying Languages and Literature at the University of Rome. Her curiosity has taken her across the world both as a researcher and as an active tourist. Different cultures as well as different value systems and the different behavioral codes that come with them have always fascinated her, and getting to know them has given her a way of empathizing with people from all walks of life. Femke started her career at Censydiam as a qualitative researcher. In 2007, she co-founded Innate Motion. She is passionate about helping brands to be more relevant in people’s lives and taking a cultural leadership role. Ever since she was very young, Femke has loved to speak her mind, challenging the status quo and authority, and she often dreamt of changing the world. Today, she uses these qualities to contribute to cultural branding and visioning journeys in a refreshing way. She is keen on voicing her intuition, helping teams co-create, get inspired, and find a shared purposeful direction forward.

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