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Marketing Society Annual Lecture 2021

With the Global CEO of Gillette, Gary Coombe

The best a brand can be

In 2019, Gillette launched their campaign “The Best Men Can Be” with a short film that challenged sexism, bullying and toxic masculinity. The result? Within 48 hours, the ad received over 4 million views on YouTube. It trended number one on Twitter ahead of #Brexit and #Trump. It sparked a global discussion about masculinity, and a heated debate on the role of brands and businesses in modern politics and society.

But what was the story that unfolded behind the scenes? As a leader, how did Gary empower his team to step away from tradition? Gone are the days where businesses delivered a purely functional benefit. Now, consumers expect their brands to play a broader role. What happens when you step up, only to step into a hyper-critical spotlight?

The story behind the sensation

Gary was interviewed by our President, Syl Saller CBE, who dove deeper into the story behind the marketing. Former CMO of Diageo, Syl’s illustrious career also includes six years at Gillette. She brought her own perspectives on close shaves, the role of marketing and what it can achieve; in businesses, in society and across the world.