Gillette, not the best marketing can get

Many were offended by Gillette’s sexist 'Get Closer to Your Man' campaign, so it's refreshing to see that they decided to pull it down.

view gallery VIEW GALLERY
Related Topics

Ah, Gillette. The best a man can get – and, these days, a woman too, if we’re to believe their marketing department.

Gillette have been rolling out a nicely gendered line in product marketing for years now: the different names for what is essentially just a device for removing hair are absolutely hilarious, if by “hilarious” you mean “make you want to plunge a razor into your eyeball”. On the one hand, you’ve got the Gillette Fusion Power Phantom, which has five blades and probably roars. On the other, the Gillette Venus Spa Breeze, which is coloured a dainty lilac and apparently “infused with a white tea scent”. Hey, Gillette? Screw you. If I want a cup of tea, I’ll have a cup of tea.

Yesterday’s object of ridicule amongst the more feminist valleys of the twittersphere was Gillette’s Get Closer to Your Man campaign, which gives “advice” on how to please your man via the medium of body hair removal. Yes, forget all those things you thought might be important in a functioning relationship: a shared sense of humour, perhaps, some sexual or emotional chemistry, or the ability to hold a conversation for more than five minutes. All those things go out the window the minute your man feels the lightest graze of stubble besmirching your lady-pins. “Disgustubble!” he will cry, leaping from the bed in alarm, “Get thou to the bathroom, to remove your hair and infuse thy follicles with white tea!”

The promotion takes the form of an interactive flash animation of a bathroom. But not just any bathroom: this is your inner goddess’ bathroom, and so obviously it’s gleamingly clean, decorated purely in pastels (eugh), and has lingerie cast wantonly around the room. This bathroom certainly isn’t for doing your business in; it’s for eating a bar of Galaxy chocolate in whilst you “soak” in the “tub”, surrounded by your favourite scented candles and listening to a CD of sensual whale music.

You’re then invited to discover – via a series of quizzes, obviously – “how close you are to your man” and “what type of goddess you are”, by picking a picture according to your “intuition”. We’ve all heard of that famous ‘women’s intuition’, right? Because women can never have opinions based on rationality or empirical evidence; it’s always a vague sort of “I feel it in my water”. Whatever water that even is. Bathwater, perhaps.

The quiz then asks you to pick how your smooth legs make you feel. The choices of picture: a woman boxing in a feisty manner, a tranquil-looking woman praying, a woman leaping up into the air in just her bra and knick-knacks, a woman getting it on with a big hunk o’ man-slab, and a woman – I’m not quite sure – hoovering? Or possibly it’s a shower nozzle. I can’t quite see; either way, you get the idea.

Now, there are many things that can inspire me to leap around in just my underwear – Slutwalk protests, trying to freak out my housemates when they arrive home from work, pretty much all of Robyn’s discography - but the silkiness of my legs has never been one of them. Personally, I don’t feel like I associate any of these photographs with my experience of shaving my legs. I don’t even feel like I associate any of them with my experience of womanhood, which, to me, is much more complex than a spot of yoga, a spot of housework, and the occasional shag. 

Of course, once the twitterati started pointing out how sexist, offensive, and (perhaps worst of all) absolutely mind-numbingly lazy the promotion was, Gillette were quick to pull the ad and give their apologies, issuing the slightly eye-brow raising statement that they were “investigating how this was made live in the first place”. Presumably some reckless misogyny-bandit snuck into the office whilst their backs were turned? Whilst I’m not one to cast aspersions on anyone’s credibility, it doesn’t seem enormously plausible to me that all the necessary technical development time would be poured into that animation if the content – or the concept, at least – hadn’t been signed off on.

Rubbish excuses aside, the surprising thing here is perhaps that they did listen, and did react by pulling the advert. After all, the promotion isn’t in-your-face offensive; rather, it’s one of those tiring, common-or-garden examples of pervasive sexism which we’re inundated by on a daily basis. I’d go so far as to say that its stance is so unremarkable that Gillette didn’t really have any particular responsibility to even respond to people’s complaints, so the fact that they did so is worth some (grudging) respect. I SAID GRUDGING. The bottom line is, the more we point out these examples of sexism in advertising and the media - no matter how major or minor the issue - the more companies will start to think twice before resorting to lazy gender tropes and clichés. And the more companies admit that what they’re doing is offensive, the more others will follow their lead. And that can only be a good thing.

So, Gillette: let’s see how much better a company can get.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas