Gillette sparked a new controversy with the release of its new ad earlier this month. The ad is aimed towards men to address the “toxic masculinity” of society. It also ties into the #MeToo movement by addressing sexual harassment and bullying, as well. Gillette’s tagline has always been, “The Best a Man Can Get;” however, the slogan is now being used as a question for men to set aside the stigma of “Boys will be boys,” and focus on making a better future for everyone.
The ad can be found on YouTube and has roughly 26 million views with about 1.2 million “dislikes” of the video. It challenges men to hold themselves accountable for their actions of sexual harassment and bullying. The ad even uses clips of Terry Crews speaking out about his experience with sexual harassment. It isn’t meant to put men down, but to show that we believe that we can change society for the better. Many people have taken to Twitter to tweet their opinions; there is almost an even split between positive and negative comments. Some have been using the #BoycottGillette to display their opinions. For example, one tweet reads: “Gillette has lost a customer. I won’t be told that me and my gender is a monster by someone who is selling their product to me.” While others are positive towards the ad: ““Men need to hold other men accountable!” Wow. Gillette you have blown me away. That is such an amazing ad. This ad has the individual and Society theme written all over it. Proud of #Gillette for trying to make a difference.”
The controversy over the ad exist with the idea of “Toxic Masculinity.” Most people do not understand this term. Toxic masculinity can be described as, “a term from social sciences that describes norms of accepted behaviors among men that are portrayed as good and natural but are, in reality, physically, socially and psychologically damaging. The toxicity doesn’t come from being male or masculine.” With this being said, toxic masculinity is not being a male or doing masculine things, but rather treating other human beings as sex objects, using terms like “boys will be boys” as an excuse for bad behavior, or homophobia towards men/women who demonstrate nontraditional gender roles of their associated gender. For example, liking/playing a sport is not toxic masculinity, but harassing a male who isn’t into sports, because that is associated with males, is an example of it. This Gillette ad is simplifying targeting the negative side of toxic masculinity to make people aware that following “gender norms” is a thing of the past, and to push for a better tomorrow.
The ad opens with news voice overs of counts of bullying and sexual harassment, openly asking, “Is this the best a man can be?” It shows a male grabbing a woman’s behind and laughing it off, even though it upsets her. Later on in the ad, it displays a male boss touching a female worker without touching anybody else during a meeting. Two young boys are shown fighting in front of their fathers; however, no one intervenes to stop the fight. The ad wraps up by saying, “There’s no going back because we believe the best in men. Men need to hold other men accountable, to say the right thing and to do the right thing.”
Despite the negative feedback from the ad campaign, Gillette’s sales haven’t changed. Gillette claims the ad is a huge success. Their Gillette Shave Club has actually grown, quickly adding new subscribers. Because of this ad, Gillette has received more media coverage, only helping reach a larger audience. Gillette plans to continue to target a younger audience with its ads. These new Gillette ads could be compared to Nike using Colin Kaepernick for their ads: it gets people talking, causing more media coverage and exposure without losing sales.