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Politics within Digital Advertising—Contentious or Ingenious?

In today’s political climate, and with a constant connectivity to technology, we are heavily influenced by the ads we see. As the political climate seems to grow more contentious, companies take the opportunity to create discourse surrounding hot topics in the political or social spheres. Most notably, Gillette has released two ads in the past year— one highlighting toxic masculinity, and the other highlighting LGBTQ+ issues. Around a week ago, they released their newest ad depicting a dad teaching his transgender son how to shave. The ad immediately was trending on all social media platforms, similar to the video they released in January called “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” which now has 30.7 million views on YouTube. This advertising strategy isn’t foreign, as other companies are starting to pick up on this trend as well, showcasing more diversity within their commercial campaigns—and here’s why it’s not only contentious, but insanely ingenious.

What gets people talking these days, whether you’re waiting in line for coffee, having dinner with family, or at work? Politics. It’s the newest tv soap opera—but in this case it’s our reality. Anything that is socially contentious feeds conversation. And what is advertising meant to do, if not to spark conversation? Gillette, as well as other brands, have seemingly mastered this trend. After Gillette released their first ad in January, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were immediately plastered with Gillette’s logo. Taking the chance of making something socially contentious is no longer a fly or flop advertising strategy—now it’s a surefire (and free) way to promote your company through millions of social media users.

For weeks, the word “Gillette” was spread across the entirety of the internet. Even if some of the coverage is negative, the overwhelming response was positive, and in this case, any news is good news. Not only does social contention within ads create more opportunity for viral content, it also allows marginalizes individuals and entices them to see themselves represented within a product. After this most recent Gillette ad showcasing the transgender man shaving for the first time, trans individuals could see themselves represented for one of the first times in corporate media. It’s a given that if you see yourself represented within a product, you’re more likely to support or purchase from that brand. Although, in this case, Gillette may lose a few conservative buyers, in the long run, they are gaining much more through mass advertisement and liberal motifs throughout their campaigns. So, before you make your next ad, consider the power of politics and viral media—you might just make the trending page!

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