As we’ve said before, emotion sells 

Pulling on your customers’ heartstrings is a long-standing but often underused marketing method that has been put to good effect by some top brands in recent years.  

Good stories give big voices to small ventures. That’s why many businesses have switched their marketing focus from features and benefits to the emotional core of what they do, in a bid to appeal to the hearts, rather than the logical minds, of their customers. 

But striking that delicate balance between emotive storytelling and virtue-signalling is a fine art rather than an exact science, as shaving giant Gillette demonstrated recently.   

Earlier this week, the razor brand unveiled its latest ad spot, ‘We Believe: The Best a Man Can be’, a short promotional film aimed at revitalising its instantly-recognisable 30-year-old tagline, ‘The best a man can get’. 



Complete with an emotive narrative and an aspirational brand message, the spot set about challenging the notion of ‘toxic masculinity’, imploring men to be better when it comes to their attitudes towards bullying, racial and sexual harassment and workplace sexism.  

It’s a bold move and a noble cause, but judging by the response it received online within hours of going live, was one which may have backfired.  

Observers have noted that the ‘preachy’ tone it has adopted in its handling of potentially controversial and divisive subject matter may have alienated, rather than engaged, vast swathes of its key buyer personas.    

At time of writing, the film was #2 trending on YouTube, with more than 16m views after being live for 3 days.  

However, more than 796,000 people had clicked the dislike button.  

And a brief scroll through the 233,000+ comments the film had attracted reveals far more snark than love towards its message. 

Why understanding your buyer personas is important 

In attempting to redefine masculinity for the post-#MeToo era, Gillette may have misjudged its buyer personas – the audience that consumes its products. 

Defining your buyer personas correctly is one of the keys to the success of any marketing campaign. Understand who they are, what sort of messages they respond to and where they like to consume their information.  

From there, it’s simply a case of tailoring your narrative to make sure that the messages you are trying to push are appropriate and will resonate with your audience. 

Judging by the backlash received so far, it would appear the more earnest, less humorous tone that the spot has taken was viewed as patronising and enough to turn a large chunk of Gillette’s key audience off.  

Jamie (pictured left) acknowledges the power of understanding your audience

Jamie Bourn, our Account Director, said: “Gaining a true understanding of buyer personas is the foundation upon which great campaigns are built.  

“By knowing who your key customers are, what sort of language and messaging they respond to, and the channels through which they like to receive information, you can then start to develop a brand message that engages with them on an emotional level.  

“However, it’s easy to get this bit wrong and misjudging this crucial step can often undermine your other efforts in trying to make your campaign a success, so it’s worth investing the time and effort at the start to make sure you get this bit right.”     

Ironically, one of Gillette’s main rivals understands its buyer personas very well.  

Dollar Shave Club built its business on the back of a clear understanding of who its buyers – young blokes who want to save time and money when it comes to buying razors – are and how they can be reached.  

It built word-of-mouth for its subscription-based online razor buying model quickly via social media, on the back of a simple but clever YouTube video which has been viewed more than 26m times. A start-up in 2012, it was bought out by FMGC giant Unilever in 2016, in a $1bn deal.  

Dollar Shave Club, incidentally, had its tongue firmly in its cheek when it posted this mischievous Tweet in response to the Gillette spot, which quickly went viral itself receiving more than 15,000 likes, 3,200 retweets and much love in the comments:

Without mentioning Gillette, Dollar Shave Club threw some shade.

Jamie added: “When working with clients, we often cite Dollar Shave Club as an example of marketing done well.  

“It understands its key buyer personas and their motives, and knows where they hang out to consume information, then simply tailors its messaging accordingly. 

“That’s what all good marketing boils down to – know your audience, know your channels and hit them with the right messages at the right time.” 

Getting the message  

However, simply knowing who your buyers are isn’t enough.  

Once you’ve established and defined your key buyer personas, ensuring your message is audience appropriate and hits the right mark is the challenge.  

For people to engage with your brand, they need to feel a connection.  

Connections are what create strong loyalty with your customers, which ultimately grows into a long-term relationship with your business and brand. 

This is where Purpose Media can help.  

Katrina maps out brand message

Our Marketing Director, Katrina Starkie, said: “Creating a connection through emotive storytelling is a powerful technique for building relationships. It’s a proven concept that brings people together and keeps them engaged. 

“The approach explains why brands like Apple, Nike, Dyson, Virgin, McDonald’s and even Reggae Reggae Sauce are able to connect with customers on an emotional level.  

“It’s because they give them something to believe in, then use emotive storytelling to develop that connection.  

“Purpose Media can help you deliver memorable experiences to your customers through brand storytelling.  

“We carefully consider who you want to reach and the values you want to portray, helping you to attract your ideal audience and take your business forward.” 

Interested in finding out how best to tell your story?  Let’s get started… 

Let's get started.

Posted by Katrina Starkie