Proctor & Gamble are experiencing better than expected profits in every area…except the male grooming products section of Gillette, and few people should be surprised.
Before the Super Bowl, Gillette released an ad that insulted men with social justice/feminist based narratives about toxic masculinity. Even things such as wanting to talk to a pretty girl or boys wrestling in the yard were considered negative things that needed to be dealt with. Gillette finished the commercial by indicating that “some men” don’t do this and that we should all be like these “some.”
Needless to say, it didn’t go over well. Gillette received a well-deserved societal spanking for its sexism.
Now the numbers have come out, and Gillette seems to be the weakest link in P&G’s chain according to Market Watch:
That raises the question of whether Gillette’s financial results are suffering because of its toxic-masculinity misfire. On Tuesday, Procter & Gamble (PG) beat earnings and revenue forecasts, but the stock fell 3% on a day the S&P 500 closed at a new high.
The good news is that sales grew 5% organically—that is, without help from acquisitions or currency exchange—whereas the Street was looking for 3.7%. Products for skin, fabrics, and home led the way. But sales of grooming products, including Gillette, slipped 1%, continuing a long string of declines. Margins disappointed. The upside earnings surprise came from non-operating items, like a tax-rate change.
Gillette must have felt the burn before the earnings reports. It attempted a quiet, yet blatant, and very lazy walk-back of its toxic masculinity stance by attempting to make a United States soldier out to be a hero. The ad could have been considered even more insulting than the first.
As I wrote of their horrible attempt at damage control:
Overall, this video seems more like a lazy attempt to walk back their previous message without actively saying that’s what’s happening. They imagine that they can win men back by displaying a military man looking like he’s coming straight from a Backstreet Boys video shoot and getting a job, having kids, and being a soldier.
If the message is that men are actually important, then it’s not said. If it’s that soldiers are just like everyday men, they’re mum on it. It’s good they called a military man a hero, but beyond that, I’m not sure what the point here is.
Market Watch notes that this may be a grooming product problem overall due to the relaxation of workplaces and the emerging popularity of beards, as well as online brands such as Dollar Shave Club gaining larger footholds in the market.
“When Edgewell Personal Care (EPC), maker of Schick razors, reports quarterly financial results in May, investors will get a better idea of whether Gillette’s weakness is specific to the brand,” notes Market Watch.
However, the old saying “get woke, go broke” has repeatedly been shown to be an adage that businesses should pay attention to. Very few brands succeed after venturing into social justice territory, with one notable exception being Nike.
I actually hope that Gillette’s loss is isolated to Gillette. I want this to be one more lesson to corporations.
Don’t be sexist. Don’t be racist. Don’t get “woke.”