Gillette is in big trouble. Recently, Procter & Gamble Company (P&G), which owns the shaving company Gillette, announced that it took “an $8 billion charge on its Gillette shaving business. P&G reported a net loss of about $5.24 billion, or $2.12 per share, for the quarter ended June 30, due to an $8 billion non-cash write down of Gillette.” The company cited increased competition in the razor market and less demand for their products as the reason for the write down. Yet, something else might be at work here.
Two months ago, we brought you the story of Gillette featuring liberal ideologies in their ads. One ad, which sparked a large controversy, was in response to the #MeToo movement. It negatively depicted young boys wrestling until a dad intervened saying, “That’s not how we treat each other, ok?” The ad also featured a narrator who condescendingly stated that we need men “to act the right way. [And] some already are.” Most men are bad, you see, and absolutely no wrestling is allowed. Apparently for Gillette, the solution to supposed ‘toxic masculinity’ is not to make men, better men. It’s to make men, feminine.
A second ad depicted a dad teaching his daughter how to shave. The ad featured Samson Brown, a transgender man who, as a result of hormone therapy, began growing facial hair and had her dad teach her how to shave. The ad said, “Whenever, wherever, however it happens – your first shave is special.” It ended with a close-up shot of Brown with overlaid text reading “The best a man can get.” Of course, despite surgery and hormones, Brown is still a young woman who believes she is a man.
It seems most men don’t appreciate being denigrated, and some may have chosen to take their business elsewhere. Since these ad campaigns appear to have negatively affected Gillette’s profits, maybe they will learn this important lesson: Don’t insult your target customers.
Contrast all of this with my favorite fast-food company, Chick-fil-A. Several years back, Chick-fil-A became a source of controversy because Dan Cathy, its CEO, came out in support of traditional marriage. Since then, the business has skyrocketed.
This year, Chick-fil-A became the third largest restaurant chain by gross sales in the United States. McDonald’s holds the top spot with $38.52 billion in gross sales; Starbucks is second at $20.49 billion, and Chick-fil-A came in third with $10.46 billion in sales.
In addition, Chick-fil-A is the highest grossing per-capita restaurant in the U.S. “In fact, the average Chick-fil-A unit made around $4,090,900 in 2017. By contrast, the total sales for a McDonald’s ($2,670,320 per unit), Starbucks ($945,270) and Subway ($416,860) is $4,032,450.” This is despite the fact that Chick-fil-A is only open six days a week, allowing their workers to take the Sabbath Day off.
And, “for the fourth year in a row, the Georgia-based chick chain has been named America’s favorite restaurant.”
Though most large corporations are quite liberal in their politics, it seems that such overt, liberal bias may not be the best idea. Though Gillette has acquired a lot of press as a result of their ads, it seems all press may not be good press after all. Time will tell if they change their ways.
Photo from Nathan Klima for the Boston Globe