Laura Jordan Bambach: is Gillette opening up new conversations around behaviour?

Laura Jordan Bambach is chief creative officer at Mr President, a London-based independent creative agency. She has been a prominent voice in the industry for over 20 years, winning numerous awards for her work at Mr President, which won The Drum’s Agency of the Year and the AdAge International Small Agency of the Year while under her stewardship. She was also previously a president of D&AD.

Bambach is a strong advocate for diversity in the industry, and is the co-founder of SheSays – a global volunteer network that works to encourage more women in the creative industry. She is also the co-creator of the VOWSS, which showcases the world’s best work by women and the co-founder of The Great British Diversity Project.

Can Gillette’s toxic masculinity as change behaviour?

Razor ads are one of those categories that have relied on a perpetuated trope for as long as I can remember.

Well-trodden lines that mean that every razor ad blends into every other – a bland and unsurprising world of sportspeople, or dads shaving and sons looking on. It’s as stereotypical as the woman loading the washing machine.

But at least the laundry conversation has moved on; that world is slowly changing. We even have new advertising standards in the UK that address gender stereotyping. And yet razor ads remain, unchanged and unnoticed – the ad equivalent of the bad 80s soft rock you tune out to.

So I love this Gillette ad. Not only because it starts to raise questions that are so very important around self-improvement and being better for yourself and your kids – or that it's beautifully shot by the amazing Kim Gehrig – but because it makes razor advertising great again.

I now know why I buy Gillette over the competition, and my God will I remember that when I shop next.

We’ve seen that Nike has had brilliant sales on the back of the Kaepernick conversation, and I hope that Gillette does too. They are genuinely opening up about something that we should all be speaking about more. Men supporting men for the benefit of men. And mankind.

I’ve been a committed Gillette buyer for more than 25 years – hilariously, I still remember the day I got my first Mach III after my male flatmate raved about his. Mums all over the world buy blades for themselves, their husbands and their sons every day.

We all appreciate what P&G has done to put a mirror up to ourselves. And if you don’t think it makes a difference, just look at what 'Like a Girl' did for gendered language all over the world.

There’s always a different approach, something you would do differently as a creative, if you were the one with the brief. For me it would be focusing more on the positive: I know male mates that love it and some who really think it’s a bit preachy and makes them feel like they’re being told they’re rubbish.

I wonder how much showing people what’s wrong with these behaviours allows them to be open to accept change.

I’d love to see 'The Best a Man Can Get' being taken into these more positive places. It’s a great line and a great belief. Like 'This Girl Can', could it be a campaign big enough to embrace some of the grassroots change that’s needed, or provide spaces for constructive dialogue? How does it help men to really support men through change? And how does Gillette make sure it keeps a role within that conversation?

What’s important is that it's not really about this ad at all, but what Gillette do next and how they can genuinely contribute to behaviour change. After all, what needs tackling is systemic – a product of many years of culture – not something that is “men's fault”.

And no-one should expect a brand’s first foray into this discussion to be faultless either, or solve everything in a two-minute film. Love it or hate it, we all bear the responsibility of creating a better culture, and we’ve just been reminded by Gillette of one of the places we might start.

Finally, it feels slightly dangerous commenting on an ad like this as a woman who even has the privilege of being asked her opinion. I imagine I’ll probably get a heap of shit for it, even though it’s just my view on a piece of advertising.

It's the same anger directed at the ad that has caused such a furore just for asking men to examine themselves and ask questions. Silence is the real power that this masculine anger exerts, and is what the ad is trying to address. Because everyone should be able to have a conversation about how they could make things better for themselves, their family, their kids and the world.

And no-one really wants to go back to 80s soft rock again.

Laura Jordan Bambach is the chief creative officer and co-founder of Mr President

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