There has been a lot of talk about the new “toxic masculinity” Gillette ad.
The company’s “The Best Men Can Be” ad features several scenes and depictions of bullying and sexual harassment and encourages men to do better by stopping and preventing these things. In the closing scene of the commercial, a man steps up to stop another man from catcalling a woman and another scene shows a dad stepping in to stop two kids from fighting. The final lines from the narrator say men need to do a better job so the next generation of boys have better examples to follow.
“Bullying. Harassment. Is this the best a man can get?” the commercial’s YouTube caption reads.
The commercial quickly went viral and is still on YouTube’s trending chart but most of what is being said about the ad is not good.
At the time of publication, the video’s YouTube page featured twice as many downvotes as it had upvotes, 821,000 to 411,000 respectively.
“You sell razors, not life advice. Stay in your lane,” one user commented and some others echoed the sentiments.
“Just the type of social commentary I look for in my shaving gel,” another user posted.
As BizPac Review reports, a Villanova University marketing professor said the term “toxic masculinity,” though only mentioned once, should have never been included.
“The use of the term ‘toxic masculinity’ in the ad was a flat-out mistake,” Villanova University marketing professor Charles Taylor said in an op-ed with Forbes. “While only mentioned quickly and briefly, the use of this term, which many men associate with a one-sided critique and stereotype of an entire gender [sic].”
Taylor went on to add that corporations should never alienate a substantial portion of their consumer base, which Gillette’s campaign “unnecessarily” did. Taylor also warned that without modification or apology, Gillette’s campaign would go down in history as an “all-time marketing blunder.”
“The shame of all of this is that Gillette surely could have devised a campaign focusing on positive encouragement of good behaviors without making sweeping generalizations about men and what it is to be masculine,” Taylor continued. At the time of publication of this article, the ad had over ten million views on Gillette’s official YouTube page and nearly three times as many “thumbs down” as “thumbs up.”
Gillette’s ad also redirects viewers to a statement on its website that further explains the reasoning behind the campaign. The company states that it is now a “new era of masculinity,” and it “is clear that changes are needed.”
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Despite criticisms claiming that the company itself stereotypically depicted men in the ad, Gillette pledged “to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations” of what it means to be a man. The company will also donate $1 million per year for the next three years to nonprofits that “inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal ‘best’ and become role models for the next generation.”
As TODAY reports, several people even threw away their Gillette products as a result of the new campaign:
Satirical website The Babylon Bee also took a swipe at the ad writing an article that read: “Gillette Now Including Free Manly Side Bag With Every Purchase.”
The website, which is entirely fictional, wrote:
As part of its new ad campaign designed to target a new, more sensitive American male, Gillette announced Tuesday that the company will be giving out a free manly pink side bag with every purchase while supplies last.
The bag will reportedly contain a copy of The Feminine Mystique and instructions on how to treat any toxic masculinity you may have come down with. To get the free bag, you must spend at least $20 on a Gillette razor or other hygienic product and mail in your man card to the company.
The video did have several supportive and positive comments as users said it was inspiring and was eye-opening.