Gillette Phenom Advert: Awkward Sexual Tension

It may seem a little churlish to complain about the absurdly macho Gillete Phenom adverts. Absurdly macho ads have been, after all, the traditional stock-in trade of razor adverts, beer adverts, lad-mag adverts and those adverts for burgers you can cook in the microwave in a minute.

Macho is their raison d’etre and their demographic. Thus the association with motorbikes, gorgeous hot babes and, particularly, sport in razor ads. If you have a smooth face chicks will dig you and men will envy and respect you.

So it’s not good enough simply to denounce the Gillette efforts as AdTurds on that basis. No, it’s the terrible CGI and bizarre awkward vaguely homo-erotic nature of the supposed friendship between Thierry Henry, Roger Federer and Tiger Woods in these adverts that launches them into the stratosphere of truly shit ads.

It’s said that you can never have a beer commercial featuring only two blokes sitting in the pub. Why? Because they might be gay, and that’s a big no-no if you’re shilling beer, lads mags or microwaveable burgers. And especially razors.

Unfortunately the strange chemistry between the trio in the Gillette ads does nothing to discourage the suggestion that the three men are not homosexuals. Instead, it looks like they’re about to start daisy-chaining.

Thierry Henry is famously intelligent and charismatic; Roger Federer may as well be a garden rake he’s so devoid of character; and Tiger Woods is an odd looking man with a reputation for being intense and difficult.

Gillette’s attempt to introduce an element of slapstick physical humour between these three men may qualify as one of the strangest decisions in all of advertising. Henry, Woods and Federer are – or have been – three men pretty much at the top of their professions throughout the decade, and their chins are fantastically smooth. But their reinvention as a modern-day version of the Three Stooges is as inexplicable as it’s unsuccessful.