Marketing the Rainbow

Click on pictures for larger image.


Gillette is an American brand of safety razors and other personal care products, owned by Procter & Gamble. The Gillette Company was founded by King C. Gillette in 1901 and merged with P&G in 2005. Most assets were incorporated into Procter & Gamble's two main divisions, Beauty and Household Care.

The Gillette R&D center in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Gillette South Boston Manufacturing Center (known as "Gillette World Shaving Headquarters"), still exist as functional working locations under the Procter & Gamble-owned Gillette brand name. Gillette's subsidiaries Braun and Oral-B, among others, have also been retained by P&G.

Whereas the Gillette website remains silent about Diversity, the corporate site says: "P&G is a Company that believes in diversity and inclusion. A commitment we take pride in." Check out the separate article for more information.

classic 1
classic 2

There are a few classic print ads from Gillette that may look like they feature gay consumers, but this is probably not meant that way.

The earliest appearance of an ad targeted at the gay customer that I could find was from 2013. The campaign was called "Make your body style the best accessory this summer" and the ad appeared in OUT magazine. 

#MyBestSelf campaign

After the toxic masculinity backlash, Gillette tackled gender once again later that year. They "swore to embrace and promote inclusive representations of gender" in the #MyBestSelf campaign.

In 2019 Gillette was lauded for this groundbreaking transgender ad that championed gender inclusivity. To demonstrate that 'The Best a Man Can Get' includes all men, Gillette released the short film titled 'First Shave' which stars Samson, a real transgender teen, who is being taught how to shave for the first time by his father. Sat next to his father, Samson talks directly to the camera to discuss his positive feelings since his transition. In the video, Samson says hes "glad I'm at the point where I'm able to shave."

The onscreen text at the end of the film reads 'whenever, however it happens - your first shave is special.'

The film was met with a positive response on social media, with many lauding the shaving brand for addressing a subject that resonates so much with the trans community.

Gillette sparked a huge debate about the next generation of masculinity when it launched it's "We Believe: The Best Man Can Be", a corporate social responsibility advertising campaign, in January 2019.

Instead of promoting their core product (razor blades), Gillette took their ancient slogan "The Best A Man Can Get", and built on that for an inspiring "toxic masculinity ad", asking: “Is this the best a man can get?” The company addresses the #MeToo movement and the role toxic masculinity plays in it. Rather than focusing exclusively on a negative, shaming note, Gillette smartly transitions into framing the #MeToo movement as a chance for men to be better while still being men. As the narrator says: “Because we believe in the best of men.”

Although the ad aimed to simply point out that certain society learned behaviours can be damaging for both men and everyone else, it sparked boycotts, with many criticising the shaving brand for its foray into feminism. Despite the backlash, Gillette argued it had a legitimate right to speak on the subject as the 'world's largest marketer to men.' 


Not much later Gillette Venus launched a campaign called #MySkinMyWay, with transgender activist Jazz Jennings, one of the youngest publicly documented transgender individuals in the world as the spokesperson. The campaing aims to "re-right" the rules regarding skin, because "no one other than you should have an opinion about whether you shave, how you treat your body hair, or how you decorate your skin with tattoos or makeup." 

The initiative isn't just about individuality. It's also about inclusivity, showcasing people of several backgrounds and experiences all united under one message. "My favorite thing about the campaign is the diversity and the inclusion," Jennings said. "Gillette Venus is celebrating every woman and every kind of skin. All ethnicities, identities, and inclusivity are important. People have tried to invalidate my identity as a woman. When a major company is endorsing someone who is trans, they are saying, 'We support Jazz and her identity.' A lot of people don't embrace our identities or allow us to express who we are authentically. Venus is saying, 'No, everyone can be who they are.'"

2020: You Can't Cancel Pride

Although the Boston Pride Parade was cancelled due to the pandemic, Gillette marked the occasion in its own way: the Gillette Stadium was lit up to celebrate 50 years of #BostonPride.

18 Pride 2
18 Pride
Pride razors


The LGBT employees of Gillette participated in Pride parades for years, supported by the brand on social media. 

In 2018 Gillette started to employ influencers on Instagram to compete with flourishing competition from direct-to-consumer brands such as Harry’s, Dollar Shave Club and Billie, all of which have used social media marketing to great effect in recent years. They chose Male, Athlete, Family, Gay and Female influencers.

As the most prominent Instagram influencer in their lineup, model and activist Nyle DiMarco was a good choice: with 1.7 million followers, he is a hot commodity. DiMarco’s sponsored post featured two high-quality images of him shaving with Gillette’s new Heated Razor.


{for the data nereds: Posted at the end of September, DiMarco proves that a heavyweight influencer of his size can be invaluable for a brand of Gillette’s stature in raising awareness among key demographics. With 160,818 likes and 1,639 comments, DiMarco garnered an impressive engagement rate of 9.5%.}

Another gay influencer they chose was Will Taylor from New York City. He runs the bright/bazaar blog, and has over 320,000 followers on IG (at the time 254,000). 

The beginning

This article was last updated Dec 3, 2020

Toxic masculinity

Case study: Gillette

Branche: Cosmetics & Health