Boys will be boys: Gillette under scrutiny for new advertising campaign

Shaving brand Gillette has come under scrutiny today for its latest advert “We Believe”. The politically-charged ad takes a look at the role of masculinity in the time of the #metoo movement.

Created by female director Kim Guhrig, ‘We Believe’ examines issues facing today’s man. Its underlying message that men should be accountable for each others’ behaviour, has riled some people up.

Should brands make political statements?

So, is this a disastrous move or a clever way to start a conversation?

The advert opens with examples of bullying, sexual harassment, and toxic masculinity. Interspersed with reports of the #metoo movement and references to a “boys will be boys” mentality.

Later on, men step in to prevent negative behaviour as a voiceover warns that how we act now influences future generations.

The advert closes with the encouragement that men strive to be “the best a man can be”. A reference to the brand’s slogan: “the best a man can get”

Negative responses to the Gillette campaign

Negative responsive are pervasive on Youtube and Twitter. Commenters accuse Gillette of everything from being tone-deaf and jumping on an “anti-men” bandwagon to emasculating its own customers. Going by Youtube alone, the negative opinions strongly outweigh the positive, with five times as many people giving the video a thumbs down. 

Others are sceptical of any brand bringing politics into an advert for razors.

But, is the advert really that bad? Because it’s not just men who can learn from the message. And the way we behave now will influence the future. That’s a strong message for everyone – whether it’s to do with the way we treat each other or how we treat the planet as the whole. As Bernice King said of the advert: “this isn’t anti-men, it’s pro-humanity”.

A message supported by the brand’s actions

Of course, the main reason for an advert like this is to build brand reputation and get people talking. But that doesn’t negate its positive message.

The response from Gillette’s Brand Director, Pankaj Bhalla’s was: ”We expected debate. Actually, a discussion is necessary. If we don’t discuss and don’t talk about it, I don’t think real change will happen” (source: CNN business).

Gillette’s 3-year commitment to supporting men’s charities lends authenticity to the film. Gillette will donate $3million to organisations that help men “be their best and inspire the next generation.”

Gillette created the market for women’s razors

Gilette launched the first razor for women in 1915 as fashions changed and women began to wear sleeveless outfits. The campaign promised to “solve the embarrassing personal problem” of hairy armpits. Help those who “wanted to appear at their best”. The campaign effectively created the need and resolved the need for feminine razors in one swoop.

And with that, Gillette launched an industry that is worth $1billion dollars a year in the USA alone.

Finally, I leave you with the words of Twitter user Andrew P Street: “If your masculinity is THAT threatened by an ad that says we should be nicer then you’re doing masculinity wrong”

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