Gillette’s ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Ad Receives Outrageous Pushback

by Sabina Jafri ‘20

The usual buzz this time of year, in the marketing world, is centered around Super Bowl TV advertisements. This year, it seems that another ad has stolen the spotlight just three weeks earlier and has been there ever since.

Procter & Gamble, a multinational corporation that produces Gillette brand razors, released an approximately two-minute long video entitled “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” to promote their men’s razors. The ad, inspired by the #MeToo movement, has since been nicknamed “Toxic Masculinity” by viewers, because of the negative message they say it is sending.

The first half of the video depicts men of various backgrounds at home, on TV, in the workplace, and with friends, undermining and objectifying women, and is followed by clips of men in the same situations instead fostering peace and standing up for their fellow human beings, men and women. The entire video is narrated with hopeful sentiments about men taking a stance, and, as the name implies, being the best they can be. Actor Terry Crews of “White Chicks” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” delivering the line that “men need to hold other men accountable,” and the 2016 viral “I Am Strong” video, featuring a father giving his daughter a pep talk, are among the more recognizable clips included in the ad.

Currently, the ad has 64 thousand likes and 93 thousand dislikes on Youtube. Indeed, comments like, “horrendous ad” are among the more moderate responses to Gillette’s commercial.

“The new Gillette ad is very insulting to men,” said Andrew Kaplan, a Maryland resident who was highlighted on CNBC for his response. “In the guise of an ad for shaving, it lectures and berates men. So smug and self-righteous! Highly offensive and inappropriate. I will definitely join the boycott against Gillette. Horrible way to treat men and your customers. Shame!”

“I was offended,”  said one female commenter. “What a patronizing, contentious advertisement. Another useless business taking sides to boost their profits. I would suggest that men protest over this condescending advert by just refusing to buy anything from them.”

Despite the supposed boycott and overwhelming rejection of the ad, Gillette sales have remained unchanged over the past three weeks.

Although the ad has clearly been absorbed as a ferocious attack on men, those who have such firm and inflammatory opinions often neglect to acknowledge the second half of the ad, which displays boys and men as powerful, kind, positive influences on the community. However, still others advocate that Gillette’s true, intended message was that all people should encourage each other to engage in proper conduct and to change the stigmas attached to their gender by the current political climate. That is a message that people of all genders need to process.