AdAge: Rance Crain

Advertising Age - Rance Crain
Advertising Age - Rance Crain

Razor Marketers Are Facing the Hair-Raising Truth Behind Beards

Procter & Gamble is encountering some problems at its Gillette subsidiary because so many men are letting their whiskers blossom into beards.

P&G reported in the last quarter that its male grooming business was the only division to post lower organic sales. Part of the problem was the inroads made by Dollar Shave Club-type rivals, but at least in that arena, men are still shaving, although paying a lot less for their razors.

The way I see it, P&G can take action against the non-shaving trend on one of two fronts. Either Gillette can embrace the enemy of its razor blades and lean into the trend with beard-soothing products of its own, or it can draw a line in the metaphorical sand and ban beards in ads for all its products. (A third, less appetizing, alternative would be to mock beards by showing men picking cooties and other distractions like bird nests out of their hairy growth.)

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Digital Is Disrupting Everything, Including This Print Article

Disruption was on the minds of several Advertising Hall of Fame inductees I interviewed over the last couple of months.

Their attitude was "transform or die," in the words of Kay Koplovitz, who founded the first cable TV network.

But as Irwin Gotlieb of GroupM pointed out, transformation is easier said than done. In our economic structure, the financial markets value a disruptor "in a very different way" than they value an operating business. Traditional media operate on a price-earnings ratio of 15 to "maybe" 20, he said. With disruptors, it's 220-plus, so companies like Netflix can afford to spend up to $10 million per hour for content.

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Why Stan Richards Will Never Sell: It's the Path to 'Mediocrity'

Stan Richards has "watched a hundred agencies be acquired" and said, "I cannot name one that got better."

The founder of The Richards Group in Dallas, the biggest independent ad agency in the U.S., with billings over $1 billion, plans to leave his controlling stake in it to a nonprofit with the stipulation it will never be sold. Stan says the nonprofit will have no say in how the agency is run and will receive a yearly stipend for serving as the stock's safekeeping place.

He's never been tempted to sell to a holding company. "It's been really easy for me to say no," he said.

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Could Coke Still Teach the World to Sing?

Advertisers are making a big mistake by taking as gospel what people say -- or don't say -- about their products or advertising on social media. Except, of course, when it's United Airlines.

Social media attracts people who feel vehemently about something and also people who just want to join in the chorus. But they don't always reflect majority opinion.

And to make matters worse, it becomes difficult to voice a counter opinion, because the dissenter will be immediately jumped on and torn apart limb by limb. It takes a very brave person to go up against an angry mob.

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