Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

#ShavingStereotypes: This brand’s viral marketing campaigns are more than just selling a product! [Monday: Marketing Marvels]

November 29, 2021

“Is this the best a man can get?” 

This was the tagline of a controversial advertisement that broke through the Internet in January 2019. 

The ad challenged lots of pre-existing notions about masculinity, questioned the gender status quo, and attempted to dismantle toxic adages such as, “Boys will be boys.” 

Three months later, in April 2019, the same brand that made that controversial ad launched another ad that followed a similar thread. 

… but this time, the ad tackled gender stereotypes in jobs. 

Any ideas about the brand behind these campaigns and messages? 

Gillette India! 

Gillette India is the Indian subsidiary of multinational corporation Procter & Gamble’s Gillette, an American brand of safety razors and other personal care products such as: 

  • Styler
  • Shaving Gel 
  • Shaving Cream

Since its establishment in 1984, Gillette India has been known for creating controversial and viral digital marketing campaigns that challenge stereotypes, especially among men. One of these campaigns is the “#ShavingStereotypes Campaign” in 2019. 

The Best A Man Can Be 

In this first installment under the #ShavingStereotypes campaign, Gillette India asked the question: 

“Why don’t men show their tears?” 

The brand challenged the enduring stereotype on why men are taught not to show their vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and emotions. 

The film, which was conceptualized with the help of advertising agency Grey India, tells the story of army veteran Manoj Kumar Sinha who was badly injured during a combat but didn’t shed a tear because his father made him believe that crying wasn’t socially acceptable for men. 

After it was uploaded on YouTube and on Gillette India’s other social media accounts, Sinha’s story not only went viral but also sparked online conversations among men about the last time they cried. 

Even famous Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar was touched by the ad and it compelled him to write his first ever open letter on Twitter, detailing his emotions about retiring from his sport. 

This open letter with the hashtag, #ShavingStereotypes, reached over 30 million Twitter users and further sparked conversations among men on social media! 

Add up to that number the 70,000+ people who watched Gillette India’s video ad on YouTube… that’s a great amount of exposure for the brand! 

The Barbershop Girls of India 

Three months after the release of “The Best A Man Can Be” video in 2019, Gillette India and Grey India launched another campaign installment that once again went viral on the Internet! 

This time, the companies challenged gender stereotypes in jobs. 

“The Barbershop Girls of India” was based on the insight, “Children always learn from what they see” and shows the story of barbershop girls, Jyoti and Neha, and an 8-year old boy who contemplates everything he sees. 

The short video shows the boy accompanying his father to a barbershop where he sees two girls working there and shaving men’s beards. 

Puzzled, the boy asks his father why girls can shave men’s beards, having observed that the job isn’t usually what females do in society. 

Guess what the father answered? 

He told his son that gender doesn’t matter because a razor wouldn’t know the difference between a boy and a girl—one’s skills shouldn’t be defined by his or her gender. 

Wow. That’s an unlikely yet empowering answer coming from a father! 

This showed Gillette India’s stance and desire to empower not only men but also women. 

Through these viral digital marketing campaigns, Gillette India proves it has a knack for promoting its offerings and values using good storytelling. 

In the past five years, Gillette India Limited has recorded revenues of:

  • INR 17.3 billion in 2017
  • INR 16.7 billion in 2018
  • INR 18.6 billion in 2019
  • INR 16.8 billion in 2020
  • INR 20.1 billion in 2021

        *Gillette India Limited reports full-year earnings every June 30, the end of its financial year.

Based on these numbers, we can see that the #ShavingStereotypes campaign had positive contributions in connecting Gillette India with its target market, as reflected in the company’s higher revenue in 2019 compared to 2018. 

Gillette India Limited’s Earning Power: Valens Research vs. As-reported numbers 

Gillette India Limited (507815:IND) makes for a great case study that we come back to regularly. One great reason?

The company has proven itself to be a better earning power generator than investors might think.

So, how well has Gillette India been growing its business in the past years?

The research doesn’t lie—nor do the results. Earning power (the blue bars) continues to show results higher on average than what traditional databases show.

The blue bars in the chart above represent Gillette India’s earning power (Uniform return on assets). Historically, Gillette India has seen generally cyclical profitability. Its Uniform ROA ranged from 1% to 35% in the past fifteen years, or an average of 18%. Uniform ROA is at 35% in 2021.  

The global ROA is just 6%. 

The orange bars are the company’s as-reported financial information. If you relied on these numbers, you will see a company with understated profitability. As-reported ROA (return on assets, a measure of earning power) only ranged from 3% to 21% in the past fourteen years. Its as-reported ROA in 2021 was only at 19%, which is almost 2 times lower than its Uniform ROA in 2021. 

That’s what you’ll see in Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, and most other databases.

The company’s stock price also performed better than the rest of the stock market over the decade, which we can see in the blue line in the chart below. Its returns have been well above the market.

The numbers show that Gillette India has been doing well and making a profit. 

The company’s #ShavingStereotypes campaign is a classic example of promoting a brand’s products through impactful storytelling. 

By using an approach that focuses on empowering both men and women to be the best version of themselves, Gillette India is able to capture its target market’s attention. 

… and through good storytelling, the company also establishes a positive identity in the minds of consumers, enabling them to trust the brand even more. 

The good thing about this trust? 

It is the kind of trust that is reflected in Gillette India’s sales and helps the company position its products as unlike any other!

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some company’s marketing strategy. 

…Only for the audience to later find out that their product was a flop, or worse, that the company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole. 

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the role of marketing is always paramount to that success. 

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies. 

However, the difference between our case studies and the numerous ones out there, is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group).

By looking at the true earnings of a company, we can now rely on those successful businesses to get tips and insights on what they did right.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve on. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful. 

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu 
Head of Marketing 
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities 
Powered by Valens Research 

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