It was the summer of 2010, a time we like to call Shaving Ennui. “Razor Fatigue” lay like a pall over the minds (and beards) of men everywhere. Comedians had a field day with the ever-growing number of blades in a razor. To make matters worse, guys were satisfied with their current shaving system.

That was the challenge facing Porter Novelli (PN) when Gillette wanted to launch their new Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor (GFPG). How do we escape the conundrum of multiple blades? Our guy wasn’t just bored, he was skeptical. So our biggest problem to solve was the consumer’s perception that there was no problem to be solved.

Had this launch happened ten years earlier, we would have relied on the press to tell our story. But in 2010, we knew the only way to overcome the enormous skepticism and lethargy in the category was to let men tell the story to each other.

That’s why our social media effort was the key to everything.

Stage One: Get Smart Fast. Our objectives for social media research and measurement were to:
• Confirm the key trial barriers by monitoring online conversation
• Identify how to actively engage guys online
• Develop a competitive landscape analysis to help identify receptive moments that could increase awareness, improve sentiment and encourage trial
• Develop goals and benchmarks based on a preliminary audit of social media conversations

Stage Two: Build From Guys Out, Not Brand In. Nailing the first stage would allow us to fulfill our launch objectives involving social media:
• Put consumers at the center of the launch effort
• Convert skeptics into believers
• Generate ongoing digital dialogue, well beyond launch
• Spur widespread consumer-generated content, including contestant videos and Twitter chatter

Target/Audience Analysis
Rather than find a subset of the male audience who’d be susceptible to a message about improved technology, we did the opposite and went right after the toughest-to-convert: the true skeptics.

By targeting men, ages 18-34, who were either skeptical of the idea of trying a new razor or were already loyal to other shaving systems, we knew we’d picked the highest mountain to climb. But if we could start winning them over, everybody else would follow. And that’s just what happened.

Utilizing Crimson Hexagon, PN developed a custom online listening strategy, shaping search terms and further targeting and confirm our launch strategy – keeping the consumer at the heart of the campaign. We learned that while guys were unmoved by traditional advertising claims of “superior performance,” they responded immediately—and favorably—when actually trying GFPG.

Our job was clear: we had to put GFPG in the hands of users and influencers quickly. Guys had to turn from skeptics into believers literally after just one shave. Because our big client competitor (Schick) was about to release a new product, we needed to strategically release information about GFPG early and often. This would help us reinforce Gillette’s leadership, gain the primary share of early consumer attention and help diffuse possible objections to the launch of “another new razor.”

While a broad-based program would eventually take hold, we knew that social media would play the crucial first role in creating the conversation that built trial and switchership. ( We know that’s not a word, but we like it anyway.)

To turn skeptics into believers quickly, we developed an “Always On” Strategy, continually monitoring, measuring and creating response protocol to the ongoing consumer feedback and sentiment we saw online. We’d measure the success of our current messaging based upon the content of the responses, and optimize our strategy and tactics with real-time data.

Led by our Gillette Community Manager, the “Always On” social media strategy meant we were constantly—in real time—engaging guys and other influential audiences. Pivotal elements of PN’s social media strategy included:
• Seeding the marketplace with a targeted pre-launch effort to pre-empt Schick’s similar February 2010 announcement, and to begin building word-of-mouth awareness and momentum for GFPG.
• Using our social media presence to put guys at the center of the launch.
• Giving product advocates and influential bloggers super-targeted communications and custom-designed special events, to get them excited.
• Maintaining a consumer digital dialogue that continues today.

• Used a social media announcement to pre-empt Schick’s launch.
• Created a “VIP Sampling” program encouraging bloggers to write about GFPG and to post a “widget” on their sites offering readers free samples.
• Allowed a “multi-logue” where guys could share samples with friends through a digital widget.
• Hosted a P&G Male Grooming Blogger Forum to heighten brand awareness among influencers while encouraging discussion. Our Community Manager tweeted in real-time utilizing a pre-determined hashtag for tracking.
• Initiated a Community Manager-led effort to connect with prospective consumers through crowd sourcing initiatives (e.g., leveraging Gillette talent such as Derek Jeter) and Facebook giveaways.

• Rewarded Facebook loyalists by extending invitations to attend the “Ultimate Summer Job” contest event. We tweeted during the event for those unable to attend.
• Developed targeted communications, sampling contests, and other events for advocates and influencers.
• Addressed consumer questions via Gillette’s social media channels.

Evaluation of Success/Measurement
In only its second week of launch, GFPG became the number one razor in the category. We exceeded our goal of 50% awareness, reaching 56% awareness one week before the product launch and accompanying TV and print advertising kicked off. Awareness of GFPG continued to grow over the following months: 66% by the end of June and 72% by the end of July.

• In February, 57% of social media comments regarding the GFPG announcement were positive (“believers”); 43% negative (“skeptics”)
o As of June Facebook results were: 86% “believers,” 14% “skeptics”
• Distributed more than 11,000 samples to consumers via Facebook giveaways
• More than 7.3 million people were exposed to GFPG on Twitter
• Increased Twitter followers by 176% and Facebook fans by 47% during the pre-launch phase
• Distributed nearly 81,000 samples via social media widget on participating blogs

• More than 42,000 YouTube views from user submitted videos and content created during the event (i.e., interviews with celebrity judges during launch event)
• More than 2,000 Facebook social interactions (comments/likes) around the launch/retail availability