By Aisling Reardon of The Rubicon Centre.


In the past week there has been huge controversy and much discussion over the newest Gillette Marketing Campaign with the release of the new Gillette ad ‘The Best a Man can Be’ (a play on the historic tagline – ‘the best a man can get’).

The ad presents scenarios of bullying, harassment and, what is being termed, ‘toxic masculinity’ and urges men to stand up and oppose these anti-social behaviours in order to be the Best a man can be’
The disruption caused by the Brand’s Campaign has been colossal with people commending and condemning the message and the way it is being presented.
Sales figures are still yet to be released which will proved whether or not the campaign was successful in creating profit but…

For the past week the brand’s name has been reshared and retweeted all over social media and has been on the lips of consumers world wide.
So, does politically driven marketing work?
Nowadays, we live in a politically charged world. People feel strongly about their values and beliefs and consumers want the brands and organisations that they invest money and time in to share in their beliefs or at least have beliefs.
According to a Sprout Social Survey, 66% of consumers say its important for brands to take public stands on social and political issues.
Consumers no longer just buy what you are selling, they but what you believe in.
And by integrating your brand/business beliefs into your marketing campaigns, you can differentiate your business in what may be a saturated market place, like in the case of Lyft and Uber.


Lyft and Uber are direct ‘ridesharing’ competitors who are huge in the US.
Uber being the more popular rival.
In 2017, when President Donald Trump’s Immigration ban came into fruition, two Iraqis were detained at JFK International Airport and the New York City Taxi Workers’ Alliance protested by refusing to do pickups.
Uber ignored the situation and continued to operate, apologising only for delay and refraining from becoming politically involved.

Lyft, on the other hand, announced on social media that they would be giving a $1 million donation to the American Civil Liberties Union, in response to the situation in JFK.

Almost instantly, a hashtag began to circulate #DeleteUber (in consolidation with Lyft’s actions) and for the first time Lyft’s download surpassed that of Uber’s in a 24 hour period.

What was interesting was, by playing it safe, Uber lost out and by taking a stance Lyft make waves in their market.


The important thing is that whatever the political stance is, should be in line with that of the brand’s values.
The message that the brand is trying to communicate should come from a place of authenticity and not just jumping on the bandwagon to try and gain publicity.

PEPSI – Kendall Jenner

Pepsi released a campaign in 2017 that positioned their brand in line with communicating a message of peace, unity, inclusivity and understanding.
They aired an ad with young people from all races peacefully marching and protesting together and at the head of their march was the reality TV star, Kendall Jenner.
Jenner presents riot police with a can of Pepsi and all of the protestors begin to cheer and the police drinks the can and smiles.
This politically driven marketing ploy was probably the biggest flop in recent history leading to Pepsi having to remove the ad from YouTube.
The ad itself was said to have trivialised demonstrations aimed as tackling social justice issues.
The social justice causes that were most prominent at the time were that of the ‘Black Live Matter Movement’ and the imagery used in the ad was in line with this movement; when Jenner hands the cop a Pepsi reflecting a young African American woman being arrested.

Many say the ad implies that protests and police would get along better during these BLM movements if the protesters were kinder.
Pepsi apologised profusely and reiterated that this was not their intent.
However, it was obvious that their messaging did not come from a place of authenticity as, if it did, these issues in the portrayal of their message would not have occurred.

Politically driven Marketing Campaigns are highly risky as negative repercussions of a brand can be obtained through:
• basic negative associations with the issue at hand,
• apparent fake empathy
• exploitation of current affairs
• misinterpretation of the campaign in general.
But, if people feel so strongly about this political content then there is huge reward in getting it right.
Marketing on this level can be emotive, engaging and appealing to the individual and even if there is a loss of consumers who feel that their values are not aligned with that of the brand’s, the consumer based that remains is fiercely loyal and emotionally attached.
Like the Gillette Campaign, if you are brave enough embark of a politically motivated marketing campaign then be prepared for polarization, criticism and boycotting but also huge endorsement, loyal consumers and additional markets that may not otherwise have been interested.

It’s a risky game and not for all businesses.

So, think carefully about it before you take that gamble.


By Aisling Reardon of The Rubicon Centre, an incubation centre for start-up businesses located on the Cork Institute of Technology’s Campus in Bishopstown Cork, home to 57+ knowledge based start-ups and jointly funded by CIT and Enterprise Ireland.


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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