16 Jan 2019

Gillette razors #MeToo ad targeting toxic masculinity faces backlash

1:14 pm on 16 January 2019

A Gillette advert which references bullying, the #MeToo movement and toxic masculinity has split opinion online.

The razor company's short film called Believe replaces their famous slogan "the best a man can get" with "the best men can be".

The company said it wanted men to hold each other accountable.

The ad has been watched nearly 6,000,000 times on YouTube after three days, and had about 123,000 likes and 410,000 dislikes.

Directed by Kim Gehrig from the UK-based production company Somesuch, the advert asks "is this the best a man can get?" before showing images of bullying, sexual harassment, sexist behaviour and aggressive male behaviour.

It then shows examples of more positive behaviour - such as stepping into prevent these behaviours when they happen in public.

Gehrig also directed the 2015 campaign for Sport England, This Girl Can.

Some praised the message of the advert, which aims to update the company's 30-year-old tagline, but others said Gillette was "dead" to them.

However, many comments on the video and on Twitter were negative, with viewers saying they would never buy Gillette products again or that the advert was "feminist propaganda".

"In less than two minutes you managed to alienate your biggest sales group for your products. Well done," wrote one angry viewer.

Another viewer tweeted that Gillette made it clear that they "do not want the business of masculine men".

There have also been calls for Gillette, which is owned by Procter & Gamble, to post an apology video but the company stood by its move.

"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," company president Gary Coombe said.

UK advertising company Media Agency Group's account manager Rob Saunders said the ad was getting good publicity and numbers.

"It's such a change in stance for Gillette and it's happening overnight, particularly with the social commentary and that's why it's done such huge numbers," he said.

"Their next steps are very important but it shouldn't necessarily be widespread panic yet."

He said Gillette would have anticipated a negative reaction to the advert from some people.

"This ad would have been approved by many people high up at Gillette ... so they must have known that there may have been a backlash."

Gillette razors commercial ad still image. Me too #metoo toxic masculinity

Photo: YouTube / Fair Use

Gillette also partnered with the Building A Better Man project, which seeks to reduce violent behaviour in men, and The Boys and Girls Club of America, which helps young men develop better social and communication skills.

It's also donating $1m a year for the next three years to US charities aimed at supporting men.

Mr Coombe said the company would work towards positive change.

"We knew that joining the dialogue on 'Modern Manhood' would mean changing how we think about and portray men at every turn," he said.

"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.

"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."


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