Behind the Idea: Bringing boys to men with Gillette

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South Africa celebrated Women’s Day earlier this month and to coincide with the event, men’s grooming brand Gillette paid tribute to the women who are raising a new generation of men in the country.

Created by Grey Africa, a video shares the true story of Gogo Nozizwe, who raised her grandson Akhona by herself, and addresses the fact that two out of three South African children grow up without their father.

Below, Fran Luckin, chief creative officer on the project, talks about the concept of the film and the campaign's importance.


What was the brief?

Gillette is not top-of-mind for South African black men, so the brief was to increase the brand’s relevance to them and build brand love by positioning it as a companion and mentor in their journey towards becoming the best a man can be.


How did the initial conversations go?

To be honest, the initial brief was more of a sampling brief – what’s called a Point of Market Entry brief, to get razors into the hands of young South African men who’re starting to shave. While we understood the need to get the product into young men’s hands, we also felt the relevance and brand love piece required more storytelling.


Tell us about the concept and why it was the right choice?

The film interprets Gillette’s global crusade to celebrate ‘The Best a Man can Be’ in a uniquely South African context. Gillette has celebrated the relationship between fathers and sons for years. But in South Africa, two out of three children are raised without their father. So, our film looks at how strong South African women are raising a new generation of South African men to be the best they can be.  


What was the biggest production challenge on the job?

Finding the right people to tell the story. It had to be authentic so there couldn’t be a script: we had to find a real South African woman who was raising a son or grandson and sensitively tell their story, in their own words, and in their own language.

We gave the job to a director called SJ Myeza, who had a very real connection with the story because he himself was raised by his grandmother. He went out into communities around his home and found Nozizwe and Akhona.

He spent time with them, establishing a rapport so that they’d feel comfortable telling their story.  We kept the production team extremely small, and they spent two days with Akhona and Nozizwe, in their home, capturing their life and story.


What’s the main message of the campaign and why is it important?

Gillette globally has taken a stand on redefining masculinity. This piece honours the wonderful women who are raising a generation of great men to be the best they can be. It’s not a story of sadness and loss. It’s a story about the redemptive power of love.


Why will does the ad resonate with consumers?

Every time we show the film to a group of South Africans, there’s at least one man in the room who says: “That was my story.” People are touched by the fact that an international brand has recognised them and acknowledged the reality of their lives.


What’s the most interesting thing about the campaign?

I think the fact that these are real people. Nothing about the ad is scripted or staged. The director entered their lives, listened to them, spoke to them in their language and so was able to capture some incredibly intimate moments.


How long did it take to make from inception to delivery?

About two years.


What do you hope it achieves for the brand now it’s out?

I hope it makes South Africans feel that Gillette sees them and understands their unique context and is committed to supporting them.


How satisfying is it to have released the campaign?

It was such a passion project for all of us that it’s great to see it out in the world – and even better to see how well people are responding. Our president, Cyril Ramaphosa, mentioned the campaign in his speech to the nation on Women’s Day. It’s also wonderful to see how the campaign has encouraged so many people to speak up and honour the women who’ve sacrificed so much to raise them.




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