Wading into progressive politics comes at a price, especially when doing so involves telling your largest consumer base that they’re terrible people.

Earlier this year, Proctor and Gamble’s Gillette launched a campaign against the much maligned and arguably completely fictional “toxic masculinity.” The campaign was widely and rightly criticized.

According to Reuters, P&G reported a $5.24 billion net loss:

P&G reported a net loss of about $5.24 billion, or $2.12 per share, for the quarter ended June 30, due to an $8 billion non-cash writedown of Gillette. For the same period last year, P&G’s net income was $1.89 billion, or 72 cents per share.

Cincinnati-based P&G, which operates in 80 countries, sells Gillette razors, gels and foams worldwide and said the writedown was due primarily to currency fluctuations – enduring strength in the U.S. economy in recent years has strengthened the dollar. The charge was also driven by more competition over the past three years and a shrinking market for blades and razors as consumers in developed markets shave less frequently. Net sales in the grooming business, which includes Gillette, have declined in 11 out of the last 12 quarters.

“Initial carrying values for Gillette were established nearly 14 years ago in 2005. … New competitors have entered at prices below the category average,” Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said on a call.

Gillette has lost a fair amount of business to competitors like Dollar Shave Club. The toxic masculinity campaign was an attempt to gain favor with the millennial crowd and not one its CEO regrets.

From WaEx:

“I don’t enjoy that some people were offended by the film and upset at the brand as a consequence. That’s not nice and goes against every ounce of training I’ve had in this industry over a third of a century,” he said. “But I am absolutely of the view now that for the majority of people to fall more deeply in love with today’s brands you have to risk upsetting a small minority and that’s what we’ve done.”

Gillette was acquired by Proctor & Gamble in 2005 for $57 billion. In devaluing it by $8 billion, the parent company blamed currency fluctuations, new competitors, and new social norms that have led to men shaving less often. There is no evidence that the “best a man can get” ads pushing back against sexism and bullying contributed to the $8 billion figure.

Coombe said that the #MeToo ad the company put out in January was an attempt to capture market share among millennials, a category in which they were losing market share to Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club.

In January, Gillette ran the short film “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” which took on “toxic masculinity” and the #MeToo movement. Some criticized the ad for “virtue signaling” and making broad generalizations about male behavior. In May, Gillette also ran an ad depicting a man teaching his transgender son how to shave for the first time.

“It was pretty stark: we were losing share, we were losing awareness and penetration, and something had to be done,” Coombe said, adding they decided to “take a chance in an emotionally-charged way.”

For more on their barf-worthy campaign, see here.


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