WATCH: The Gillette Ad Tackling Toxic Masculinity

Ads for men's hygiene products are notoriously 'manly' and tend to depict what society expects a man to be. This Gillette ad is tackling that.

Still from new Gillette ad showing two men at a barbecue, one in a blue shirt and one in a checkered shirt with his arms crossed

The new ad campaign for Gillette, which takes on the issue of toxic masculinity, takes inspiration from the #MeToo movement and declares that sexual harassment and bullying have “been going on far too long.”

The short clip plays on the famous Gillette slogan, “The best a man can get” and subverts it, asking, are the men of today really the best a man can get?

The video shows scenes of boys fighting, touching women inappropriately, dismissing the opinions of women in the workplace, and the repetition of that phrase we hear all too often: ‘boys will be boys’. The video also shows footage of news reports of sexual harassment and Terry Crew’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about toxic masculinity.

Towards the end of the video, we see the tables turn and attitudes improving when one man stops another from harassing a woman on the street and another stops a boy from being bullied by a gang of other boys. The narrator then declares that it is time for men to “say the right thing” and to “act the right way.”

At the end of the clip, the narrator emphasises the importance of men teaching younger boys how to act appropriately, as they will be the men of tomorrow.

After being viewed over 2 million times, the advert has received backlash online. And they call us snowflakes…

One Twitter user wrote, “Gillette has made it clear they do not want the business of masculine men. I will grant their wish. I have used #Gillette razors since they sent me a free sample on my 18th birthday, and will no longer buy any of their products.”

Another wrote, “In less than two minutes you managed to alienate your biggest sales group for your products. Well done” while others branded it as “feminist propaganda.”

Meanwhile, Gillette president Gary Coombe explained the reason for the campaign, saying, “By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behaviour, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal ‘best’, we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come.”

And now, the backlash has received, well, backlash.

Praising the campaign, one person wrote on Twitter, “The #Gillette ad clearly calls out sexual harassment and bullying, and says ‘Some men are already doing fine.’ Yet tons of men are still going to take it as an attack on “normal male behaviour,” and will interpret it as ‘painting ALL men with a wide brush.’ Priceless.”

Another wrote, “Thank you, #Gillette, for taking a chance on attaching your tagline to something meaningful, important and real. This conversation needs to happen. Why are there are so many complaints when it’s showing the good and bad side of #masculinity?”

Gary Coombe added, “We knew that joining the dialogue on ‘Modern Manhood’ would mean changing how we think about and portray men at every turn.

“Effective immediately, Gillette will review all public-facing content against a set of defined standards meant to ensure we fully reflect the ideals of Respect, Accountability and Role Modelling in the ads we run, the images we publish to social media, the words we choose, and more.

“For us, the decision to publicly assert our beliefs while celebrating men who are doing things right was an easy choice that makes a difference.”

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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