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A Look At Gillette’s Summer Job Campaign
Peter Panda

Now that summer is behind us I thought I’d repurpose a post I recently wrote for Forbes.com about Gillette’s Summer Job campaign.

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If you’re a male and have ever thought about shaving, chances are you’ve considered buying a Gillette product. After all, for some twenty-plus years, we’ve been told in ads for Gillette’s Sensor razor, shaving gel and other products that they are “the best a man can get.”

Not only has the name of Procter & Gamble’s ubiquitous shaving product line graced one of the home field of one of the most successful franchises in National Football League over the past 10 years – the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium – but due to its sheer dominance in the wet shaving marketplace (72 percent globally), Gillette is arguably on par with the likes of Kleenex, Nike, UPS, and Chevy in a short-list of instantly recognizable American brands.

In spite of its wet shave market dominance, however, the brand has always had holes with a certain sector of the American shaving public. Indeed, the muscular metrosexuals with six-pack abs, who look as if they haven’t quite yet hit puberty have historically represented the brand in commercials, have never quite connected with the Joe Six-pack, the farmer, the laborer.

That was why regular guys, and more pointedly, regular guys online, stood up and paid attention this summer when Gillette launched its Fusion ProGlide Ultimate Summer Job campaign . It was a seeming realization by the brand wizards at the company that it was time to mirror the consumer trends towards an unbridled appreciation for brands that communicate with them in an authentic manner.

“The entire marketing campaign was about reaching people who were naturally skeptics and turning them into believers,” said Damon Jones, the global communications director of male grooming products for P&G. “Everything we did was about trying to engage with guys in different ways that allowed us to have more of a conversation.”

Quasi-regular guys Adam & Jason

Quasi-regular guys Adam & Jason

Summer Job revolved around Adam and Jason, two average-looking guys who submitted a video to Gillette extolling their qualifications to represent the brand. After a final audition in front of celebrity judges including wrestler John Cena, ESPN personality Erin Andrews, and National Basketball League star Tony Parker, the pair won the opportunity to spend their summertime traveling around the country as product brand ambassadors.

They were then shepherded by Gillette’s public relations agency, Porter Novelli, on a six-week road trip across the U.S, attending summer events such as Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game festivities, NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, stopping by ESPN and NBC’s The Today Show – all the while “attempting to change Gillette skeptics into believers.”

Overall, the campaign received kudos in marketing circles.

“I like what Gillette has done because they seem to understand that compelling content is the key to driving engagement with a brand,” according to goateed social media ninja assassin Jason Falls. “The experiences that the Ultimate Summer Job guys are sharing are fun, brand-supportive and interesting to the users, visitors and fans. That’s authentic, it’s interesting, compelling and share-worthy. Tip of the cap to them for understanding the content piece of social media.”

Summer Job wasn’t a revolutionary endeavor. Its effort to extend the olive branch of authenticity towards regular guys, however, as well as the rather unique creative collaboration between Porter and Gillette’s advertising agency, BBDO, does provide an interesting study in ignoring the corporate status quo in order to assuage the broader needs of the consumer spectrum in multiple marketing channels.

“We want integrated, big brand-building ideas,” P&G’s Jones said. “Even when coming up with an advertising concept, we put all of our agency partners in a room and challenge them to go off and come up with an idea that’s going to be great for copy, great for PR, great for digital, great for outdoor. If a campaign comes back and is a cool commercial but doesn’t have legs in other parts, then it’s not a winner for us.”

Summer Job is part of a relatively new breed of national promotion, living entirely online and in social media. It wasn’t seen in advertising and was just one extension of a broader Fusion ProGlide launch that included pre-product distribution to influential bloggers to garner early reviews of razors prior to hitting shelves. Even with the cost of full-time staff on the road, a campaign like Summer Job more often operates at a fraction of the traditional media spend while consumers are demonstrating an increasing desire for real content that is entertaining — a balance that can be hard to maintain when a sponsor is involved.

To accomplish this balance, companies like P&G’s Gillette are enabling a new type of collaboration, as demonstrated between Porter and BBDO. Instead of segmenting marketing among advertising, public relations, marketing, and customer relations — groups that often jockey for budget from the brands – in this case Gillette tried to bring them all together to create content that had an air of authenticity. They enabled Adam and Jason find and report on content wherever they could, such as this report on their dinner at Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans.

Seemingly counter to P&G’s focus on marketing that made for good copy, PR, digital and outdoor — Gillette did not integrate the campaign into all of its channels in surround sound — which today is proving the most effective as consumers are parsing time online, watching some television, listening to less and less radio, and reading fewer print publications.

But give Gillette credit for bringing together its two key marketing partners who created a concept that is driving new sales, which of course is where the rubber meets the road.

Ultimately, just about all marketing is judged by dollars in the door versus marketing spend. And right now, signs point to one of Gillette’s more promising launches, as P&G is struggling to keep product on shelves.

Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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