Media Decoder: Gillette Taps Superman to Connect With Customers

May 20th, 2013

LOS ANGELES — How does Superman shave? If he is a “Man of Steel,” impervious to nearly everything, what could possibly remove that formidable stubble?

Gillette is posing those questions in an unusually playful promotional campaign tied to the June 14 release of the new movie, “Man of Steel.” It is part of a renewed effort by the men’s grooming company to find new ways of connecting with customers.

Starting on Monday, Gillette will begin soliciting fan theories via HowDoesHeShave.com and rolling out related Web videos from five superhero enthusiasts: the director Kevin Smith; Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, hosts of the TV series “MythBusters”; the comedian Bill Nye (“the Science Guy”); and Mayim Bialik, real-life neuroscientist and “Big Bang Theory” actress.

Does he burn off that beard with his heat vision? Or maybe he just whisks his whiskers away with a puff of superhuman breath.

Fans will be asked to vote for their favorite theory.

“The idea is to bring the brand to life in new ways,” said Elliott Wilke, Gillette’s North American brand manager. “We are definitely the best a man can get, but the best Superman can get? We wanted to hear from the superfans.”

Clark Kent is typically the cleanest of clean-shaven guys, but an early trailer for Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” showed him with various degrees of facial hair, including a bushy lumberjack beard, and then re-emerging with a smooth face. One of Gillette’s ad agencies, Concept One, spotted that snippet and alerted Gillette, which in turn got in touch with Warner Brothers, Mr. Wilke said.

The movie has a superhero-size marketing campaign behind it. Gillette joins a long line of promotional partners, including Wal-Mart Stores, Twizzlers, the National Guard and Hardees, which will soon introduce a Superman-themed hamburger. But if Superman eats junk food, how does he keep his abs of steel?

BROOKS BARNES

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