All of the uproar regarding Gillette’s razor infomercial spotlights the need for each of us men to develop a healthy moral compass. Gillette’s decade’s old motto, “the best a man can get,” has until now referred to the quality of their product, not their consumer. Therefore when Procter & Gamble, Gillette’s parent company decided to use their “influence” toward defining what makes a healthy man they crossed over into uncharted territory, much like other companies and media outlets have attempted to do over the two decades.
Although well intended, their efforts and the efforts of company or media outlets are based upon the belief that “man is the measure of all things.” That man has evolved over millions of years, most recently from primates to become the dominant species on the planet. That a man’s evolutionary nature can and should be shaped or influenced by the culture and societal determined norms of what it means to be a healthy man. Which all sounds good if society’s norms are virtuous, unselfish, humane, and healthy. Which can only be accomplished if the lives of the mentors or influencers themselves are virtuous, unselfish, humane and healthy. Thereby establishing the standard or aspiration that all men should strive to become.
In other words, their own personal and corporate moral compass needs to be consistently virtuous, unselfish, humane and healthy.
Therefore the question that needs to be asked is: “Does Gillette, any company or media outlet consistently rise to this standard of virtue that they are proposing?” “Furthermore, are the men and women who lead these companies or media outlets consistently living a virtuous, unselfish, humane and healthy life?” They need to be if our society is to abide by the belief that “man is the measure of all things.”
Personally I did not find the infomercial offensive because I expected it. If you’ve been following the trends in business and media outlets, their attempt to successfully influence our moral compass has a long history.
A great example would be the “Marlboro Man” campaign which was successful because of its life-style branding. The Marlboro man was the ideal poster child for the rugged, independent self-image Philip Morris wanted to sell its customers. He reflected a non-domestic masculine fantasy image that men and women admired. Carefully crafted branding invented his larger than life character that suggested: “No family tied the Marlboro Man down. He appeared to have no need a home, just a ramshackle shed, his horse, a tin coffee cup and of course a pack of Marlboros. He epitomized resilience, self-sufficiency, independence, and free enterprise.”
This is how according the book; “101 Most Influential Non-existent Person” that this fictional advertising character became the most influential non-existent person in America. Just how influential was the Marlboro Man? According to Phillip Morris reports Marlboro cigarettes sales increased by 3000 percent in less than five years.
Advertising icons like the Marlboro Man are hugely successful because it’s a “lifestyle” branding, creating an image of masculinity that a man aspires to be, or already imagines he is. Sound familiar?
It appears that Gillette has just dusted off and re-imagined an extremely successful business plan, which fits with their core mission which is to make more money. And perhaps influence or distract it’s female consumers from the lawsuits over their laundry and care products? Leaving us this question, “Should any man be looking to Gillette, any company or media outlet to define our moral compass? Be mindful that a healthy moral compass needs to be consistent in all areas of life, not just when convenient or profitable.
That’s the problem when “they, you or I become the measure of all things” where should our moral compass be pointing? What is our “true north” for being a virtuous, unselfish, humane and healthy life? Great questions, we’ll discuss that in part two of this blog.
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