Social Experiment


In India, shaving is a low involvement category for men; most only shave a maximum of twice a week! That’s not enough for Gillette, which wants them to be frequent shavers and use more of its products. As market leader however, it couldn't simply steal share from a competitor. It needed to grow the category.

Mediacom’s challenge was to persuade more Indian men to shave more often.

Gillette’s ambitions were hampered by the price point at which it competes. A top-end Gillette razor such as the Fusion costs 20 times more than a traditional, replacement razor. That’s hard to justify when you only shave twice a week. To make the challenge that bit tougher, it also needed to overturn the common preconception among Indian men that stubble was ‘cool’.

Fortunately, past research showed that an astonishing 88% of women preferred clean-shaven men.

The agency’s insight was that to succeed it had to generate a dramatic paradigm shift in male attitudes to shaving and only one thing was going to achieve it: young women, the only voice that Gillette’s target of young urban males would heed. India, however, is a culturally conservative country and women were unlikely to voice their male preferences in public.

The agency needed to magnify the diametrically opposed views of men and women to change Indian men’s attitude to facial grooming.


Indian men will shave for two reasons: to be accepted at work and to attract women. Women are, of course, far more powerful. Agency research showed that while men thought stubble was ‘cool’, 88% of women preferred clean-shaven men. In fact, while shaving might have been low involvement for men, it was important for women – women used shaving (or its absence) as an indicator of general personal hygiene standards.

Mediacom could have simply stuck this on a poster but young urban males don’t believe advertising claims. The only effective way to communicate this finding would be for them to hear it direct from the ladies themselves. It needed Indian women to voice their real opinions on male facial hair.

However, in a conservative country where women will only talk about men in front of other women, it wasn't that simple. Indian women would be very wary about sharing their preferences for men on camera. They would only talk in environments where they felt relaxed, such as spas and salons, surrounded by other women where they would be more likely to feel comfortable having candid conversations about men.

This strategy revolved around a unique social experiment, designed explicitly to reveal the true subconscious choices of women.


First, Gillette partnered with Grazia, the leading international women’s magazine in India, to commission research highlighting the huge gulf between what men ‘thought’ and what women really wanted. Mediacom used the findings to publicise the ‘facial gap’, using well-known female celebrities to reinforce their support for the clean-shaven look, and earning us national press and social media interest.

Secondly, knowing men would need actual proof, the agency then worked with Grazia to ram the point home: a media-first candid camera experiment. For the first time in India, Grazia published two different covers of the same issue: the same model was featured with stubble on one cover and completely clean-shaven in the other.

Copies of this unique edition were placed in spas and salons in Mumbai and Delhi. The agency installed hidden cameras to observe which magazine cover the women chose to pick up, and captured their candid reactions as they talked to each other.

Surveys conducted afterwards with those who were featured showed that 83% of women picked the clean-shaven cover. The video and the findings were then amplified via social media and YouTube, giving men an irresistible fly-on-the wall experience and irrefutable proof of what women really wanted.

The message was amplified with targeted media, designed to reach out to young urban males. This included earned and integrated formats such as PR, radio jockey mentions, integration into key youth programmes and blogger outreach, as well as TV, print, radio, out of home and events.


Gillette disrupted men’s long-held beliefs and habits about daily shaving. It provided Indian men with a wake-up call to overcome the 20x price differential between regular razors and Gillette flagship products, Fusion and Mach3, with startling media and business results. Specifically:
• Sales of Gillette Fusion and Mach3 increased 64% achieving their highest-ever share increase.
• Gillette earned $9.4m worth of free media with over 1.7 billion impressions
• Gillette received more than 3 million views on YouTube.
• Gillette gained 400,000 new Facebook fans to cross the 2.7m barrier, and reached 45 million unique users on Facebook.

Gillette recorded four months of back-to-back share growth during and after this campaign. At the end of the campaign the brand hit its highest-ever share of 55.3%, an increase of just under six percentage points year-on-year.

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