As Christmas neared last month, Gillette launched two messaging campaigns. One was conventional and high profile, tied to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The other was much more rogue, with Gillette rolling out the welcome mat for men returning to the brand after a short dalliance with Harry’s shaving subscription service.
“Welcome Back to Gillette” is the iconic shave brand’s way of finally bringing a razor to a razor fight. The P&G-owned brand had lost market share to newcomers like Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club, thanks in part to the growth of a $250-plus million online razor blade market that didn’t exist a decade ago.
In its “Welcome Back” win-back campaign Gillette dared to name names, specifically calling out Harry’s as a brand that “most guys leave after trying.”
brandchannel spoke with Barbara Diecker, Communications Manager for Gillette, for more insight into this aggressive campaign, including the target audience, the unusual move of calling out a competitor by name—and what the brand is doing about all these beards.
brandchannel: Gillette’s new campaign says “most guys leave Harry’s after trying it.” Is that meant to dissuade guys from even bothering with Harry’s? Or meant to speak to guys who have already switched to Harry’s?
Barbara Diecker: This campaign is meant to speak to all guys and to provide a closer look at what guys are actually purchasing—outside of funny commercials or sleek packaging. We saw that independent data points to an important fact: Most men leave Harry’s after trying it.
So we launched a light-hearted campaign based on a familiar theme to reward former Harry’s users—and, frankly, anyone who finds a home with Gillette—with a free razor and plenty of enthusiasm and gratitude. There’s nothing more powerful than guys telling other guys why they came back—including the more than 150,000 guys who participated in the campaign so far.
brandchannel: Is the “high tech” nature of Gillette’s products actually a bit of a marketing hindrance in that manly men guys tend to shy away from complex grooming products, choosing instead of identify with rugged simplicity? And how does Gillette communicate the tech advantages without coming across as “fussy?”
Barbara Diecker: It is not about who has the most “high-tech” or “ruggedly simple” product. What men care about when it comes to their razor is quality. While we get that men may be intrigued by marketing that tells them all razors are created equally, we can say unequivocally: They’re not.
Gillette’s quality has been proven for over a century—and over 750 million guys trust our products every day. That is what the “Welcome Back” campaign is all about—showing that our razors provide a great shaving experience that competitors aren’t able to beat.
brandchannel: There is often a lot of consternation about specifically calling out a competitor brand by name. Was Gillette concerned at all about this approach?
Diecker: We have seen our fair share of humorous and light-hearted campaigns aimed at Gillette and, ultimately, we take our competitors just as seriously as they take us. We think there is tremendous power in guys hearing about real experiences from fellow shavers—and why quality truly matters in a shave. We want as many guys as possible to learn from those who have tried and left Harry’s and others—and we want to welcome them back to experience a Gillette quality shave.
brandchannel: Part of the “Welcome Back” message is a communicating “Razor Facts.” How does specific product education fit with the Gillette brand that in the past used messages like “best a man can get”?
Diecker: Over the years, we’ve established our credibility with simple messaging around the quality of our razors. But what we see and hear repeatedly is that when guys try a new shaving product, they don’t know what they are getting. That’s concerning when you’re talking about a sharp razor you put to your face.
Our campaign goes a step further and lets men know why our quality is better. Gillette has the only razors that have the most advanced blade coating, Gillette’s unique progressive geometry to minimize irritation and our Fusion5 system razors are engineered to last 20 comfortable shaves—and so many more unique qualities that you’ll only find in a Gillette razor.
brandchannel: What is Gillette doing about the beard trend?
Diecker: We don’t mind well-kept beards. In fact, beards require quite a lot of grooming love too! Our razors and our Gillette Styler are designed to give you the best trim no matter what type of grooming style you are looking for. Check out what some of our bearded friends like Ivan, Thom, Eddie, Mitchell, Kurt, John, Brandon, and so many others, have to say—and why a high-quality razor is equally important for them.