The Gillette Ad

A few days ago, Gillette released a commercial that has had the internet in an uproar.  The ad attempts to encourage men to be better by calling for an end to toxic masculinity.  Since its launch, the ad has gone viral.  But what’s the point? Is it just pandering?  And if so, why?

My View

I thought the ad was well done, but I question the thought process behind it. Gillette is known as a men’s brand, so why in a climate that can be seen as anti-man and not just anti-asshole, would they go for an ad that seems to cater more to women than men?

Depending on what the conversation is, I sit on different sides. If we’re talking about men and women, I sit on the “bad” side. If we’re discussing race, I sit on the “victim” of the bad side.  And though I personally don’t consider myself either “bad” or a “victim,” I do feel like being on those two different ends allows me to empathize a bit better. Women have been belittled and held down for a long time. There’s no way that even as things improve, it’s simply going to be a case of “Great! Now we’re equal. Let’s hold hands.” There’s resentment and frustration, and there’s the continued inequality in the system. I like to put it like this: If I were to punch you in the face for 5 days straight, and then stopped and said, “I guess I could stop punching you in the face since people don’t seem to like it. Okay, everything’s back to normal now, right?”  Hell no! You’re angry, I’ve been doing this for 5 days! You’re pissed! It’s not just going to go away. That’s what we’re dealing with here. As men, we can’t just expect everything to be okay even if we’re not directly the ones who did anything wrong. It’s uncomfortable, sure. And no, I don’t like being accused of assuming a woman is incompetent because I open the door for her, but it’s part of the realigning process. A process that hopefully our children will complete with true balance and equality. Equality that doesn’t assume sameness, but rather values differences no matter what they may be.

That said, I also believe we live in a world where people have become too “soft” and too sensitive to everything.  A world in which it’s everyone else’s responsibility to make us feel good.  And I don’t believe that’s a realistic or healthy approach.  People are going to say or do things that hurt your feelings– get over it.  If you want to insult me, go for it.  I’ll learn to deal with it and raise my children to do the same. And though I believe that a lot of the social pressure towards kindness is a fantastic thing, I think it can go too far when we are no longer capable of accepting and learning how to deal with the fact that some people will say mean things.

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox and back to the ad. Personally, the ad doesn’t really speak to me. I DO believe men need to stop being assholes towards women, but I felt like the ad could have been more of a, “here are the benefits of not being an asshole”, rather than “you’re an asshole, so stop!” But perhaps that wouldn’t have made as good of an ad.

The Business

The business perspective is different. Business doesn’t care about political correctness or any other correctness– it does what people want.  If most women respond to a pink razor, then the women’s line will have a pink razor.  If most men respond to black and grey colors, then those are the colors they’ll have. It just makes sense to give people what they want.  But sometimes there’s an opportunity to go in a different direction in order to stand out.  The question there is, will standing out alienate your core audience? And that’s what time will tell when it comes to Gillette. Is telling your core audience how much of an asshole they are or have been, the best way to get people gravitating to your brand?

It’s interesting because since then I’ve seen several brands from barbershops to male grooming products respond with statements along the lines of, “we don’t ask you to change who you are, we know a man has to be a man!”  An ignorant stance perhaps, but the question is, does it work?  Would a brand do better to appeal to male users by encouraging them to be better, rather than wagging a nagging finger?  A finger that so easily blends in with all of the other fingers we see in the media today that are all wagging in our direction.  An interesting question, but again, time will tell. But whatever your stance is, all I can say is that it’s time for Schick to make some noise! This is a huge opportunity for the brand to respond while the topic, and the ad, are in the limelight.

The Question

I want to pass it off to you– man, woman, whomever– what do you think about the ad?  And more specifically, what do you think about the way that the ad communicated its message? Was it good because it needed to be said, or was it less productive than it could have been had it been more encouraging?  I want to know your thoughts.


PS:  No hate!  Disagree with me all day, but show hate or extreme negativity to anyone in the comments and you will be deleted.