Product / ServiceFUSION PROGLIDE
CategoryC01. Best Integrated Campaign Led by PR

The Campaign

‘Shave Sexy’ was a light-hearted, PR-led idea underpinned by a bold shift to Gillette’s communications strategy in China. The challenge was major category erosion: men in China were no longer able to see past the inconvenience of wet shaving (preparation, shave, wash, care), driving 18.3 million men every year to switch to more convenient dry shavers. For Gillette this represented US$647.2 million in lost earnings between 06’-12’, and it was clear that our classic approach of communicating closeness and comfort required an overhaul. We needed to give men a better reason to wet shave. Everything changed when Gillette launched ‘Shave Sexy’. Driven by the insight that women in China found wet shaving extremely arousing to watch, a planning-led ‘unbranded’ social experiment was created to prove how wet shaving could arouse female interest. Supporting these with strategically deployed endorsements, partnerships and integrated activity, ‘Shave Sexy’ reached 197 million people, reversed the growth of the dry shaver category for the first time in 4 years, and helped Gillette record its highest ever month sales. By radically reframing the benefits of wet shaving from inconvenient to sexy, ‘Shave Sexy’ heralded a new era of communications for Gillette, one that delivered value men can see.

The Brief

Our challenge was clear: how could we overcome wet shaving’s inherent inconvenience, converting the nation’s dry shavers to write a new chapter of growth for the Gillette brand? We had 3 aggressive objectives: 1. Surpass success of previous best-in-class launch of Gillette Fusion, in reach and participation 2. Stunt year-on-year growth of the dry shaving category 3. Accelerate total brand growth beyond past 3-year high of 3% over campaign month Achieving these with just 10% of the average monthly media spend of the dry shaving category [Source: Nielsen 2012]. A multi-city qualitative research was devised to identify our opportunity.


Despite no change in price-points or category competitive activity, the powerful insight and diffusion model helped ‘Shave Sexy’ achieve all three objectives: Gillette’s most successful campaign to date 'Shave Sexy’ reached 197 million people; a 198.5% increase on the launch of Fusion. Furthermore, ‘Shave Sexy’ drove 200,000 interactions, triple that of Fusion and exceeding Nike’s hugely successful ‘Greatness’ Olympics campaign in 2012 [P&G]. Reversed growth of dry shaving category for the first time since 2009 ‘Shave Sexy’ reversed the monthly sales of the dry shavers by -21% [P&G]. Against the dry shaving category’s 3 year compound growth rate, this translated to a category decline of -34% or a shortfall of 200,000 dry shaver units; equivalent to an entire month’s sales of Philips. Helped Gillette achieve its highest ever sales growth ‘Shave Sexy’ tripled the value growth of Gillette in December (10.2% vs. Nov 2012). This represents the highest launch sales month in the history of Gillette’s business in China.


‘SHAVE SEXY’ SOCIAL EXPERIMENT Working with psychologists, FHM and a pair of identical twin brothers, we created a social experiment to prove how 40 women found men sexier just by watching them wet shave. DRIVING A NATIONAL DEBATE Releasing the video of this ‘unbranded’ experiment through Japanese AV idol Sora Aoi’s social media network(s), the clip became a meme overnight. Then, leveraging on FHM’s network; carefully deployed editorial and dialogue-seeding drove men to engage with ‘Shave Sexy’, debate it, even reference it in their everyday conversations. ‘Un-planned’ celebrities soon got involved, posting photos of themselves wet shaving, amplifying ‘Shave Sexy’ more. Within one week, ‘Shave Sexy’ was featured on every news portal, men’s magazines and even national radio. CUE BRANDED CONTENT At the height of activity, an integrated series of ‘branded’ initiatives- TV & radio spots, celebrity endorsements and events- were released to drive dry shaver conversion for Gillette.

The Situation

For men in China, wet shaving (razors) was an utterly inconvenient chore. Dissatisfied, men flocked to dry shavers (electric) in droves: whereas in 2006 50% of men wet shaved, by 2012 only 30% continued to do so [NCS 2011]. That’s 18.3 million switchers every year. For Gillette, leader in wet shaving (84% value share in November 2012), this was a crisis amounting to US$647.2 million in lost earnings between 06’-12’. Despite extensive efforts, campaign reach declined, launches became less effective, and growth slowed to single digits- most worrying considering China’s importance as a market. Wet shaving’s benefit needed radical re-thinking.

The Strategy

We uncovered a secret about wet shaving: Chinese women find it an extremely sexy act to watch. ‘Wet shaving makes any man sexy’ they said, demonstrating courage and focus, which made her feel ‘beautiful’ and ‘taken care of’. Wet shaving wasn’t inconvenient, it was…SEXY. THE BIG IDEA: ‘SHAVE SEXY’ A PR-led and integrated campaign that made wet shaving sexy in China, achieved through: 1) Strategic partnerships- to enhance acceptance, the campaign was largely unbranded, deployed through strategic partnerships with target-relevant celebrities and publications (FHM). Only at the height of engagement did Gillette ‘join in’ to own the conversation. 2) Unconventional PR- traditional media played second fiddle behind a PR stunt, unconventional choice of celebrity, events and social media. 3) Overhaul of marketing language- reframing shaving from (a) self-experience to the experience for watching women, (b) stubble removal to an act of courting, and (c) from clean & comfort to sexy.


Name Company Position
Tao Dong Bbdo China Strategic Planner
Uming Tong Bbdo China Associate Planner
Elsa Gu Bbdo China Account Manager
Airy Han Bbdo China Creative Group Head
Kevin Jin Bbdo China Associate Creative Director
Fiona Su Bbdo China Account Director
Amber Lin Bbdo China Creative Director
Mei Jeng Phang Bbdo China Business Director
Jason King Bbdo China Group Planning Director
Kit Koh Bbdo China Executive Creative Director
Fanfan Li @pr Consulting Account Executive
Hua Fan @pr Consulting Media Director
Helen Jin @pr Consulting Account Executive
Emma Zhu @pr Consulting Account Executive
Dylan Yang @pr Consulting Account Executive
Stella Ren @pr Consulting Senior Account Executive
Staney Zhao @pr Consulting Account Manager
Wendy Wang @pr Consulting Account Director
Jef Ji @pr Consulting Account Director/Epr Director