PRmoment Leaders PRCA PA Mediapoint PA Assignments PRmoment Awards Winners North ESG & Sustainability Awards 2024 PRmoment Masterclass: Agency Growth Forum

Good and Bad PR: The Brexit Box and Gillette

Good PR  

Emergency Food Storage UK is a company that provides the kind of products you’d need in the event of a natural disaster or, you know, a zombie apocalypse; and clearly people think that’s what Brexit will be like, because hundreds of people have allegedly bought the brand’s “Brexit Box” to be extra-prepared once the inevitable happens (or doesn’t happen, at this rate).

The Brexit Box, with a shelf life of up to 25 years, enables people to stockpile 60 servings of freeze-dried main meals, 48 portions of meat (tins of diced chicken and minced beef), a water filter and fire-starter kit.

The brand put out an announcement this week saying that, at the last count, more than 600 people had put in an order for the boxes, which cost £295 each.

Pretty much any well put-together story you put out at the moment with ties to Brexit gets snapped up by journalists, because the news agenda right now is focused more than ever on what leaving the European Union looks like for us.

This was a really clever move by Emergency Food Storage UK, a brand that I certainly hadn’t heard of before this and I imagine was really only popular with doomsday preppers and those living in areas where natural disasters are more likely to happen.

Rebranding one of its packages as a Brexit Box (or just putting one together for the purpose of the story) was a nifty little move for the brand and it has landed coverage on the likes of the BBC, Metro, The Sun and even across the pond on CNN.

Bad PR  

Gillette has ruffled the feathers of a fair few people after the release of its latest marketing campaign; men in particular.

When I got to work one morning this week, there was talk of this new Gillette video doing the rounds on social media (all positive) and so I gave it a watch. In case you haven’t seen it just yet, it deals with the concept of toxic masculinity and men needing to push themselves to be and do better, to set a good example for the little boys who will be in the men of our future. It also touches upon the #MeToo movement and basically all of the things that have given certain men a bad rep in recent years.

There are scenes of boys fighting, chants of “boys will be boys”, a man talking over a woman in a business meeting, news reports of sexual harassment cases, men wolf whistling women and treating them like objects, and so on. The campaign ends with a clear message, ‘the best men can be’ – a play on the brand’s ‘the best a man can get’ slogan.  

I’ll probably get shot down for saying this, but I thought it was a really good video with a powerful and positive message. But perhaps that’s because I’m watching it through my female eyes. It’s so far had millions of views and you can watch it here:



Soon enough, the backlash came hard and fast and a torrent of abuse directed at Gillette began; mostly from men, but also coming from a fair number of women. The accusation has been that it alienates men and makes negative, sweeping generalisations about them.

Piers Morgan told Good Morning Britain viewers how furious he was (I mean, when isn’t he?) and thought the advert had gone too far, whilst others vowed to never buy Gillette products again and were outraged by Gillette’s message. Hashtags like #getwokegobroke and #boycottgillette started to trend.

Here’s the thing; Gillette’s advert never said ALL men were sexual predators, thugs, chauvinists or even that all men needed to improve in some way. It simply shows that some are, some might be in the future and some do. The ad even shows good men stepping in to set a better example for their peers (see, Gillette does know there are good men too).

There have been campaigns targeting women in the past that focus on how scathing and catty women can be towards other women and encouraging them to lift their fellow females up instead of knocking them down; there have been campaigns targeted at women who subject men to verbal, emotional and physical abuse. None of those got women up in arms.

Many people have missed the fact that Gillette will be donating a total of $3m over the next three years to non-profit organisations that aim to help boys and men achieve their personal best.

Still, Gillette has unfortunately received a shed load of negative press for its well-meaning ‘Best a Man Can Be’ campaign, which it’s why it’s landed here beneath the bad PR header instead of the good; even though, without the backlash and maybe with a slight tweak in the language used, it probably could’ve ended up there. Gillette perhaps didn’t prepare for such a huge backlash and maybe it didn’t think it through from a sales perspective, but I hope this doesn’t sting it too much in terms of lost custom.

Written by Shannon Peerless, 10 Yetis @ShazzaYeti on Twitter. Seen any good or bad PR lately?
You know what to do @10Yetis on Twitter or on email

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for free to our twice weekly editorial alert.

We have six email alerts in total - covering ESG, internal comms, PR jobs and events. Enter your email address below to find out more: