In the beginning of 2019, people were tweeting pictures of razors submerged at the bottom of their toilet bowls. No, this wasn’t a wacky teen challenge to make dads late for work. It was a protest against Gillette’s latest advertisement, one that confronts toxic masculinity.
Brands that craft controversial advertisements like Gillette’s, however, expect this type of response, at least from some people. Taking any kind of stance on potentially sensitive social issues tends to lead to some form of disagreement.
But authentically advocating for the causes you truly believe in usually has more pros than cons.
“Even if publicizing your beliefs may ostracize some potential customers, it also builds deep loyalty for those who share your values — particularly values like celebrating equality and inclusion, which many people support, regardless of political affiliation,” Joe Lazauskas, the Head of Content Strategy at Contently, wrote in an article after the divisive 2016 presidential election. “The same goes for expressing concern and support for the diverse people who work for you. Loyalty isn’t just a marketing metric; it’s also critical for measuring the internal health of your company.”
Executed properly and from a place of genuine support, controversial ads can be an unexpected, emotional delight that can not only deepen your connection with your core audience, but can also help you reach new audiences. For instance, after Gillette released their ad challenging toxic masculinity, Adweek discovered the campaign actually resonated with women the most.