“Super Pumped:” Taken to Marketing Church at Adobe/Marketo Summit 2019

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“Super Pumped:” Taken to Marketing Church at Adobe/Marketo Summit 2019

It was part reality check, part call-to-arms, part sermon for marketers from Marketo CMO, Sarah Kennedy at last week’s Marketo Summit @ Adobe Summit keynote, where she said:

 

“You don’t have to be in sales to talk to prospects. You don't have to be in customer success to advocate for the customer. You don’t need to be a CIO to advocate for better technology."

 

Ultimately it was a mandate; step up and lead.

“Do it,” Kennedy said, “even if you’re scared.”

Kennedy stepped into the role of CMO at Marketo one year prior to its acquisition by Adobe (the largest to-date from Adobe), and just 18 months before this keynote, in which she bluntly admitted her own fear: 

“If you don’t feel ready, I hear you. I didn’t either.”

Vulnerability on a keynote stage is rare - when it happens it’s like a fleeting glimpse of humanity in an otherwise scripted, highly-produced (note: beautifully designed, Sergio) performance that audiences come to expect from a major tech keynote presented to a room holding 17,000 chairs.

Did all 17,000 attendees stay to watch this Marketing Nation Summit keynote, held on day three of the broader Adobe Summit? No.

Boy, do I wish they did. 

Maybe you opted out of the event this year as well, couldn’t make it, or found yourself elsewhere. Whichever camp you were in, hungover or hung up on other responsibilities, here’s what you missed, through my eyes.

Note: My travel and ticket were covered by Adobe, but my POV is 100% my own.

(Thank GOD she remembered the disclosure, says their PR team with a sigh of relief.)

Carrying the heavy torch of marketing to marketers

I’m of the mindset that great leaders make no secret what they believe. 

Nowhere is this practice more important than in the weird world I’ve found myself in for the last decade: marketing to marketers.

Marketo was always heralded for its ability to teach, guide, and relate to marketers. “Marketing is hard” became a simple, but effective hook back in the days of the earliest Marketo Summit. 

Simple, but damn powerful. An exceptional truth.

Starting a decade+ ago, Jon Miller (one of Marketo’s original founders) executed a content marketing strategy full of “definitive guides” and step-by-step instructions on how to navigate the changing waters of marketing in the digital age. The company educated its buyers, a move wildly appreciated by marketers just trying to figure it all out, and a fine example of what happens when you get buyers to think of their world in your terms.

It was one of many reasons Marketo succeeded in becoming a beloved brand. (Its rivals, Eloqua and, downmarket, Hubspot, saw similar success with a comparable content strategies.)

A major part of the brand’s ability to support the evolving role of marketing operations was Marketing Nation, a community of marketers helping marketers through user groups and peer-led champions.

“We get you” the brand seemed to say, in a kind of Oprah-like delivery. We see you, you’re doing okay. You’ve got this.


 

That sense of confidence instilled was as important to signing the dotted line to buy Marketo as the quality of its cloud technology. 

What will happen to Marketo?

To me, this is what made Sarah Kennedy's keynote so powerful in this particular moment in the company’s history.

Uncertainty abounded before - and during - the show, as myself and many others asked: What will come of Marketo and the Marketing Nation now that it had been scooped up by Adobe?

To be fair, it’s early yet, the acquisition only six months old.

But, at the Summit, positive signs emerged early-on from Adobe itself: CMO Ann Lewnes was asked “What excites you most about adding Marketo to the portfolio?” 

She responded, exuberantly, “Using Marketo! We are customer zero. This is the best B2B marketing solution, bar none.”



 At a broader level, the acquisition was framed within Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen’s opening statement “we aim to change the world through digital experiences.”

 


He explained Adobe’s creative cloud empowered people to create (with a belief that everyone has a story to tell), that their document cloud activated all digital documents, while their experience cloud (of which Marketo is now part) would “transform how businesses compete in the digital era.”

A shared vision to help companies make digital a headwind, or a tailwind.

As Steve Lucas bounded on stage with his trademark energy and “SUPER PUMPED” mantra (it’s infectious), it was comforting to realize some things would never change.



He delivered some expected lines (“with Marketo now part of the experience cloud, it unlocks new capabilities across advertising, analytics, and commerce”) and some B2B surprises like ABX - a new account-based experience that is still vague but will somehow incorporate Adobe’s capabilities with Microsoft and its Dynamics CRM and LinkedIn (owned by MSFT.)

 



The promise (to be fulfilled): “With addition of Marketo, Adobe Marketing Cloud enables you to personalize, optimize, and orchestrate cross-channel campaigns across B2B and B2C, enable end to end marketing for B2E (business to everyone.)”

B2E, clever.

This was all in line with the messaging coming out of the initial acquisition.

 

A powerful example of leadership.

But it was Kennedy who left me reeling.

Her keynote ended the morning’s talks, but it did so with a bang.




 It gave me, someone who has grown up with the company as a customer, technology partner, sponsor, and now contractor, the confidence that this brand was still by and for the marketer. 

Kennedy chose to share three “forever truths” that guided her as CMO; revealing, as she put it, what “a little more time in the chair” taught her:

  1. The customer (in moments of doubt, lean into the voice of the customer.)

  2. The community (we’re not going through this alone. Never forget whose brand this really is.)

  3. The calling (your time to lead is now.)


She spoke to the emotional state of nearly every marketing leader in that room:

 “If you don’t feel ready, I hear you. I didn’t either. The calling is for us to jump, find that parachute on the way down, and step into that divide. Lead your companies from the front without fear, and do so with [Marketo/Adobe] as a partner. You have a passionate and powerful nation behind you.”

 

In one fell swoop, Sarah broke down that enormous barrier that exists between a speaker standing in front of a football-field-length keynote screen, and the audience they are there to connect with. 

She reminded marketers that she, like us, was in the same strange boat of digital transformation amid choppy waters. She had been asked to lead transformation when she joined just 18 months prior, rebuild a team, rearchitect their go-to-market. She was asked to lead change, doing whatever it took to guide the organization through transformation.

It was the same charter laid before any marketer at any high-growth firm, in any industry.

(All the while with the reminder of that short, average-CMO-tenure hovering overhead like a personal storm cloud.)

This was personal, powerful marketer-to-marketer messaging that I connected with stronger than any other given through the duration of the Summit. This was what I had worried would be lost in this acquisition. This is what attracted so many to the Marketo brand and why, as Narayen said in his opening talk “Marketo’s empathy for its customers” was a major factor in its acquisition.

 

Recognizing Marketo’s role as career catalyst

What her personal, vulnerable story indicated was that Marketo, with her as a brand steward, still understood its chief role for many of their strongest customer advocates, that of “career catalyst.” 50,000 individuals have "Marketo" in their profile on LinkedIn. It has accelerated and carved a path of success for many in the marketing operations field.

Later in the event, I sat down with two Marketo customers, Sydney Mulligan + Amy Connors, who each agreed Marketo changed their careers (and lives) for the better.

(I’ll update the post with videos once they’re live, for now here's a behind-the-scenes shot. Oprah for hire, here.)

 


Marketo is now part of the larger, broader, more substantial behemoth that is Adobe, which is also undergoing its own digital transformation, brilliantly led by Narayen who has pushed through major shifts to its business model (from creative software in a box to a subscription model,) expanding their focus (squarely a marketing company now with its acquisition of Magento’s eCommerce capabilities and Marketo with it’s end-to-end lead management engine), while maintaining its dedication to a community of creators and designers.

Ultimately what left me feeling super pumped (thanks Steve) was this final point that Kennedy made: the calling.

“Each of you needs to be ready to lead. To be a catalyst for growth, to take ownership over every step of your customers’ journey. Transform teams into marketing growth engines by making engagement your top priority. Make every experience epic.

It’s marketing’s time to lead. Your company, customers, and communities need you to do so.”

Here was a rallying cry for marketers amid a chaotic world of change.

Here was earnest confidence from one of our own.

Here was a stage featuring two admirable CMOs (Kennedy and Lewnes) who were both shining examples of what each marketer was not only tasked to do, but could do within our own organizations.

And there was a shiver going through my spine as I felt something sitting in that audience. Please note this was the final of seven, yes seven events I had attended this month alone (not complaining. Just putting it in context.)

That’s what a great keynote should do. That’s what a powerful leader should do. That’s what a brand must be in an age of confusion, noise, and change.

For overwhelmed buyers, clarity amid the ambiguity, confidence amid the change, a vision for the future, and honesty about the challenges faced is like cold-as-ice lemonade on a hot Vegas day. (OK, gin and tonic, let’s be real.)

I don’t envy anyone who has, like me, chosen to market to marketers. It’s a thankless job full of skeptical eyes, with buyers well aware of the moves being made (for the most part) and setting the bar sky high as a result.

Ultimately, what a brand like Marketo must do is inspire its marketing buyers to see themselves in that brand. Customers need to relate to brand leaders who serve as spokespersons for their technology, and shepherds for their flock.

How refreshing to see exactly this, last week, from Kennedy.

Forgive all the church references, Easter is coming soon and my recovering-Catholic self is feeling the optimism of springtime, but for all intents and purposes this was a beautiful example of evangelism on-stage.

We were taken back to marketing church. 

And I, for one, was converted.

 

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Thank you, Adobe, for having me as one of your 65 Adobe Summit insiders from around the globe. While I will always bristle at being called an "influencer," I was grateful for the chance to be part of this year's event.

Every week I send a newsletter on marketing, business, and life. It's free and curated by me. Are you on the list?

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3 Takeaways and Action Items for Marketers from Modern CX 2019

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3 Takeaways and Action Items for Marketers from Modern CX 2019

The question that was proposed by the Oracle Marketing Cloud team ahead of this year's event was simple:

“What does it take to be a great marketer in the age of the customer?” 

Modern CX 2019 tried to answer it for attendees from 37 countries, with 323 sessions and 424 speakers across 3 very busy days.

I was part of this year’s event as a speaker, correspondent (follow me on Twitter) and researcher (if you haven’t taken my 7-minute survey, please do!)

My POV comes as a marketer who was part of Eloqua Experience for years as a sponsor and partner, then a speaker and attendee at Modern Marketing Experience after the acquisition by Oracle, and now as a freelance consultant and observer at Modern Customer Experience. 

Here are my top three takeaways + action items (with bonus one-liners at the end) for marketers:

1. Oracle wants to help you outsmart time.

New EVP and GM of Oracle CX Cloud, Rob Tarkoff, first asked if there were any clocks visible in Las Vegas.

His point:

“Time is the currency of the Experience Economy."

"It’s now. It’s urgent. CX is a race against time… It’s about looking at the world through your customers’ eyes and asking yourself: Is every experience that my brand delivers worth the time a customer invests with me?”

This focus on time was a common thread of the main stage talks. 

New updates to the Oracle Marketing Cloud reflect this focus, allowing marketers to make the most of the limited time they do have with prospects, and optimize the “micro-moments” that occur in the process of a buyer engaging with a company. 

The best place to read about those is within Ginger Conlon's thorough piece for The Drum:

Updates to Oracle Infinity and Oracle Maxymiser include an integration between the two designed to provide marketers with the ability to visualize user behaviors with heat and zone maps — allowing them to improve the customer experience on their website. [Maximizing their time on-site.]

Additionally, the new Oracle Infinity Action Center provides insight into behavioral data from across touchpoints that marketers can use to improve segmentation and better personalize communications in real time. And a new Recommender engine uses that behavioral data to support one-to-one targeting at scale.

Collectively, these updates aim to provide marketers real-time intelligence so they can respond to customers’ nearly unpredictable actions in the moments that matter.

For B2B, a new Oracle Eloqua integration with Oracle Data Cloud + Oracle DataFox (purchased in October 2018) lends new insight into intent and account behaviors. It allows teams to know the best, most relevant time to engage with target accounts based on their noteworthy behavior across 5M digital properties, 70k daily news articles, and other “growth signals” across the web. 

Is every experience worth their time?

[ACTION ITEM 1]

Marketers need to remove our rose-colored glasses, take a hard look at the current experience a buyer has with our brand, and ask (as Tarkoff recommends): “Is every experience that my brand delivers worth the time a customer invests with me?”



2. New UX for sales raises the stakes for marketing’s thought leadership.

From the main stage, Hillel Cooperman, SVP of User Experience Design at Oracle, shared a peek of what is to come within the Oracle Sales Cloud. 

He walked through a beautifully designed experience for a sales rep: A Facebook newsfeed-esque layout shows a history of a prospect’s behavior (what they read, downloaded, or what Marketing sent), while AI transcribes their call, conducts a sentiment analysis, and recommends what to say next to move the deal forward.

These contextual insights were instant, prescriptive, and powerful. Oracle’s vision is that more time can be spent “focusing on sales priorities, and less time spent on non-selling, administrative tasks.” 

I was impressed by this demo, and felt it looked beautifully constructed for the reality of a sales rep day-to-day. 

[ACTION ITEM 2]

From a marketing perspective, none of this very cool tech matters unless we’re able to equip the sales team with original, prescriptive, and relevant insights to help that buyer move forward, and see their world differently. 

Tarkoff echoed this sentiment later, saying "If the majority of buying journey happens before a customer talks to sales, how do we ensure they are prepared as experts?” 



3. In the experience economy, Marketing must learn from UX

Cooperman’s talk demonstrated a renewed commitment from Oracle on the user experience of their applications.

“Good enough is not good enough anymore. We're reconnecting with design and want to be the best at user experience. Not functional, not just helpful but delightful. We want you to fall in love with it," he said.

His POV is excellent advice for anyone designing or marketing products. We can’t dream about creating a great customer experience without working to improve the process post-sale. A beautiful user experience for our tools is paramount to keeping customers loyal. 

It's also what makes or breaks the adoption and success of any tool, a sentiment echo’d by Motorola Solutions’ Andrew Sinclair later on the main stage as he described how Oracle helps them to provide contextual, just-in-time insights to workers in a 911 call center, who daily deal with "moments of terror":

“A dashboard filled with information during a moment of terror helps nobody.”

Here, Motorola Solutions puts the user first, giving them clear guidance on "what to do next."

In a similar vein, marketers need to take a page from the book of UX when we consider what kind of experience we’re creating for buyers pre-sale. 

As I shared in a 15-minute talk at this year's show, CEB found that the majority of B2B buyers are well-informed, but overwhelmed and uncertain.

Much of this is because marketing overloads them with information, instead of making the buying process clear, simple, or easy. 

Some quick tips here:

1. Make it clear in your content about why change matters in the first place. Your buyer will come back to this point more than any other during the long sales process. 

2. Be prescriptive about what their process will be to change. Get ahead of their concerns. 

3. Help a buyer sell the vision internally by equipping them with answers for the questions and priorities that all stakeholders will have in the deal (yes, in your marketing content.)

4. Audit your resource library of content every single freaking year. 60-70% of all content churned out by B2B marketing departments sits unused by Sales (SiriusDecisions.) Less is more.

5. Start with the buyer. I know this is old news but I will never stop beating this drum. In a time when all vendors have access to the same tools, the team that knows their buyers best will win. Challenge your assumptions about the people you’re selling to, and ensure every piece of content you produce answers one of their hard-pressing questions.

This is what vendors like Oracle mean when they make big bets to re-focus their products/conferences on the “customer experience.” 

We’re being asked to design an experience. That means great marketers are already thinking like their UX counterparts. After all, we have the same goal; make a product as desirable to a customer as possible.

[ACTION ITEM 3]

Marketers, think like UX designers do. Remove what’s unnecessary. Make it beautiful. More is not better. Clear is better. Intentional is better. Customer-centric is better. 



My favorite one-liners from the show.



“It takes 80 touches to sell an app to a customer at Oracle. The first 20 are the hardest.”

-- CEO Mark Hurd speaking truth to the need for strong, bold early-stage messaging and content. Amen.



“If asked to lead, do so with empathy, thick skin, and a great team.”

-- Donna Epps at Ricoh



“NO to me are the first two letters of ‘not now’”

-- Mick Ebeling, CEO of Not Impossible



“The Olympics is about people who go from ordinary to extraordinary”

-- Jennifer Storms, CMO of NBC Sports, as she explained the company’s “persona plans” which highlight the amazing stories of athletes. We fall in love with them. Who are your olympic athletes? What are their stories?



BONUS TAKEAWAY: There’s no such thing as TOO dressed up for the Markies. 


Thanks to Oracle Marketing Cloud for having me! You can see more in my Twitter momentwatch the keynotes on-demand here, and learn more about their 2020 event here.

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Pay Attention, Be Astonished: Thoughts On That Gillette Ad

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Pay Attention, Be Astonished: Thoughts On That Gillette Ad

Mary Oliver died this week.

The beloved poet once wrote:

“Instructions for living a life: / Pay attention. / Be astonished. / Tell about it.”

Also this week, Gillette launched its campaign, “We Believe” and many friends and colleagues shared it with me, asking for my POV.

Taking a cue from Mary Oliver, I am paying attention. I am (a bit) astonished. And, so here I am telling about it.

Like I’ve done in the past, I want to address this campaign with a question:

“How should we respond?”

The ad shows men and boys acting a fool - sexual harassment, bullying, and setting poor examples for their children. The spot ends with a question of whether this is indeed “the best a man could be” (a riff on its now 30-year-old tagline “Best a Man Can Get”) and encouraging men to “strive to be better, to make us better, and to help each other be better.”

Here’s how some consumers have responded:

In a world where media outlets profit from sensational stories, publications like Business Insider have made it seem like a barrage of angry men (with pitchforks, no doubt) are boycotting the ad.

Certainly, some loud voices like this guy with guns in a field (.......WHAT……) are stomping their feet, throwing their razors into the toilet in “protest” and generally being angry on social media. The reactions on the video's Youtube are overwhelmingly negative (trolls will be trolls.)

But, a survey this week of over 2,000 adults by Morning Consult found that the “backlash may be overblown — most people surveyed said they had a positive opinion of the ad after watching it.” FastCompany found the online response to the ad has been mostly positive.







How P&G has responded:

P&G has no plans to pull the spot despite the backlash.

“We recognize it’s sparking a lot of passionate dialogue — at the same time, it’s getting people to stop and think about what it means to be our best selves, which is the point of the spot,” said Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette brand director for North America via MarketWatch

That's in line with the microsite for the campaign on Gillette’s site, which explicitly states:

“It’s time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture… From today on, we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette.”

WIRED found that the campaign came out of “the wake of #MeToo and a national conversation about the behavior of some of the country’s most powerful men.” The company conducted focus groups with men and women asking them how to define being a great man.

“...we asked ourselves the same question as a brand. How can we be a better version of ourselves?” said Bhalla.

Though some have rightfully highlighted some pretty sexist marketing moves by the brand, the statement above indicates the company is looking to admit it’s got to do better, and pledge that it will. (We should all pay attention to see if that’s the case.)

In addition, there seems to be far more to the campaign that simply this video. This particular spot is getting far more attention than the whole of the campaign, which features more positive stories in other spots. Via FastCompany:

“The idea of giving more meaning, depth, and accountability to Gillette’s decades-old slogan led the brand to create a series of ads exemplifying what it’s dubbed “bestness” from every conceivable angle. There’s the NFL spot with Shaquem Griffin, exploring how the one-handed Seahawks linebacker has achieved bestness against adversity, and there’s the YouTube ad for Gillette’s Treo razor, which showcases a middle-aged man taking care of his father (partly by shaving him). In the coming weeks, these ads will be joined by a new installment revealing what firefighters have to do to save lives.”







Was this a good move from Gillette?

From a marketing perspective -- Gillette is facing increasing noise from insurgent brands such as Dollar Shave Club (now owned by Unilever) and Harry’s shaving club (which recently netted $112M in new financing). The advent of contract manufacturing has made it easier for these brands to enter the space, and consumers are far more familiar with the subscription-style purchase that underpins their business model.

Harry’s is taking advantage of the buzz to deploy ads like this one below, which links to their mantra that “big razor brands have lured consumers into paying higher prices for razor models with new features.”

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But, even though they’re loud, these brands only capture 8% and 2% of the $2.8 billion market, respectively. Gillette is still the big dog, competing mostly with Schick.

My take: I think this campaign was launched to make a very stark point -- we are not going to compete with any longer only on accessibility (delivered to your door) or blade quality and technological innovation. Now, it’s going to be a battle over values and cultural relevance.

As Scott Mautz, who used to work for Gillette’s parent company for 20+ years, said,

“At least it makes me feel something… I successfully ran the marketing for multiple billion-dollar brands at P&G and evaluated more advertising than I can remember. The criteria I always started with when reviewing a new ad was, does it make me feel something? Does it make me think? Laugh? Cry? Make me angry?”

Looking back, a decade ago, Gillette controlled 70% of the U.S. Market. Last year, its market share dropped to below 50%, forcing it to slash razor prices by 12%. (Note, it claims to have 70% of the market share on online retailers like Amazon and Jet.com.)

This was a bold move from a brand that needed to create a bold, emotional reaction - and with 20M views on Youtube and a slew of press coverage, that’s exactly what was created.







This move is not totally radical for Gillette.

The company has a long history of associating their razors with values like virtue, potential, and mastery.

Salesman King C. Gillette invented the disposable safety razor at the turn of the last century, according to this CNBC piece.

“Clean-shaven faces were synonymous with virtue and manliness, a Western preoccupation that dates back to when Alexander the Great ordered his men to scrape off their beards before battling the Persian armies in 331 B.C., according to Christopher Oldstone-Moore, historian and author of the book, "Beards and Men."

"The country's future is written in the faces of young men," one blurb from 1910 declared, continuing, "The Gillette is a builder of regular habits. Own a Gillette—be a master of your time—shave in three minutes."  

Another ad from the same year indicated that Gillette's razors separated independent, civilized men from brutes and effeminate males: "Woman is the great civilizer. If it were not for her, man would revert to whiskers and carry a club. . . . "

AC0060-0003117_cropped_resized.jpg






So, why the backlash?

Truthfully, this particular ad felt like a patronizing PSA. It also inflamed tensions between genders further at a time when we are at our most polarized in the US, and when movements like feminism and #metoo are villainized by some as a threat.

“When we talk politics today, our voices are loud and fractious, always passionate and often divisive. Our conversations are rarely rational debates; they either become therapy sessions with like-minded partisans or devolve into shouting matches against the other side.”

- Thad Kousser, professor of political science and department chair at UC San Diego.

Part of me was astonished at the backlash.

How hard is it to support the idea that men should set good examples for their children, stand up for women, and refrain from sexually harassing anyone on the street or at work?

But let’s be real - it’s human nature to double-down on our identities and convictions when challenged.

(Anyone who’s had to suffer through a political discussion with family at the dinner table, or *shudder* in the comments section of a heated Facebook post knows the feeling.)

When confronted with our worst habits, or assumed stereotypes about us, we naturally bristle with defensiveness. It feels like a personal attack. When it happens in such a one-way medium as an advertisement, it can feel like we are not being given a chance to defend ourselves.

We feel voiceless.

And so, off to Twitter we go, to say f*ck you, Gillette, f*ck you for supporting “anti-men” sentiments. Not all men are this bad. Not all men are assholes. Not all men. Not all men. Not all men. On and on with this chorus until we feel justified in our anger.

When challenged directly in this fashion, asked to confront the worst of their behavior, many men (and some women) responded, as social media allows us to do, instantly and in an emotionally-charged, defensive, reactive way.






Proving the point.

Unfortunately, lacking much critical thought or empathy, these responses exhibited exactly why the #metoo movement exists: to call attention to real and uncomfortable instances of dangerous, toxic behavior in a world where few are held accountable for it.



Out_Of_1000_Rapes.jpg


Source

These individuals who spoke up in anger demonstrated an incredible lack of self-awareness or integrity to admit that maybe, just maybe, the depiction of men in the ad was not entirely made-up.

That just maybe there was some accountability to be had.

How does it feel?

Now, I have to laugh, because the crux of the backlash, from where I sit, is that these men feel uncomfortable being shamed by an ad.

Yet, ads for decades have shamed women. We’re used to it.

What these men are feeling is an experience women have had viewing advertisements for much of our lives. See Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Us Softly for hundreds of examples.

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Our new normal

Part of me is resigned to the fate that we now exist in a world of marketing corporate morality, where brands in commoditized industries like razor blades for men feel that the only frontier left to compete on is that made up of the values they portray through their marketing, in an attempt to connect with consumers on a deeper level.

They know that many consumers won’t ever see the ad live, say, on a TV media buy — but look how many are talking about it. The viral nature of these ads means if brands take a position, the benefit of exposure is there.

Part of me is glad Gillette is using its reach for good - elevating an important message to millions. Another part of me is rolling my eyes that a razor company is advising anyone how to live their lives. Alas, this is the time in which we live. Lines are blurred between CEO and activist. (See Patagonia and Nike.)

I’ve written in the past about the danger of making it seem like the world is more ready to embrace progress than it really is (I call it an illusion of progress).

As an example of where we actually are in the real world, just heed the end of Gillette’s microsite, which presents us with an ironic call-to action.

“Follow how men are taking action!”

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Unfortunately, the action taken by many men in response to this campaign serves to remind us how far we have to go to combat the very real issue of toxic masculinity.

The Good Men Projects defines toxic masculinity as:

"a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression. It’s the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness; where sex and brutality are yardsticks by which men are measured, while supposedly “feminine” traits—which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hypersexual—are the means by which your status as “man” can be taken away."

Personally, I’m not convinced corporate morality is the best solution to this very real problem. But, ads like this are certainly better than the alternative.

Now, gird up your loins, boys, for International Women’s Day is only 49 days away.  

--

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