Gillette faces backlash and boycott over #MeToo-inspired ad which tackles 'toxic masculinity'
The nearly two-minute ad opens with a series of news reports on bullying, #MeToo and toxic masculinity as the narrator asks 'Is this the best a man can get?'
Gillette decided to take on bullying, sexism, and also sexual harassment with a powerful new ad which has been inspired by the #MeToo movement and aims to put a complete stop to 'toxic masculinity'. Shortly after its release, many customers took to Twitter to call out the ad and claimed that Gillette had 'just insulted their own user base'. Most of those who decided to speak out against the ad were males.
Over the last three decades, the brand has been using the tagline 'The Best A Man Can Get' and but the new ad twisted the script by seeming to put the responsibility of changing social norms and preventing the mistreatment of women on men.
A lot of angry customers used the hashtag #GetWokeGoBroke and swore never to use the company's products again. One user commented saying, "So we just started 2019, and already a company has started pushing sexism towards Men... @Gillette have no become a Leftist Bigot Company that insulted their own user base by calling them 'Sexists'. Well done, Gillette. #GetWokeGoBroke."
Another user wrote, "I am taking action. I'm researching every product made by Proctor & Gamble, throwing any I have in the trash, and never buying any of them again until everyone involved in this ad from top to bottom is fired and the company issues a public apology." While a third unhappy customer added, "Cheers Gillette, we had a good run. I'll find another product."
Some people were also not pleased with the fact that the ad was directed by a 'feminist' woman. Canadian media personality Ezra Levant wrote, "A shaving ad written by pink-haired feminist scolds is about as effective as a tampon ad written by middle-aged men." The ad has been titled 'We Believe' and starts with many men staring into a mirror while the audio of news about the #MeToo movement plays in the background.
As a group of bullies chase a victim through a movie screen showing a vintage Gillette ad, a voiceover asks "Is this the best a man can get? Is it?" The ad then continues to highlight and speak about all the various ways that the mistreatment of women has been normalized. It also shows a group of male cartoon characters which are whistling at a woman and also a sitcom scene where the lead actor grabs the maid's backside as the audience laughs.
While watching his son fight, a father says, 'Boys will be boys'. The ad stresses that toxic masculinity and the practices which defend it should not be tolerated any longer. The voiceover says, "We can't hide from it. It's been going on far too long. We can't laugh it off. Making the same old excuses. But something finally changed, and there will be no going back. Because we, we believe the best in men, to say the right thing, to act the right way. Some already are, in ways big and small."
The commercial also shows a clip of Terry Crews, a victim of sexual assault sharing that "Men need to hold other men accountable". The ad also shows many men stepping forward to stop their friends from catcalling or eve teasing. The ad ends with a voiceover saying that having just some men step in 'is not enough because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.'
The video was directed by Kim Gehrig who had been selected via the Procter & Gamble's partnership with Free the Bid which is a program that advocates for more female directors on ads. The ad will amongst the first to address the #MeToo movement while telling men that it is time to change their behavior.
Gillette brand director Pankaj Bhalla released a statement to the Wall Street Journal which read, "This is an important conversation happening, and as a company that encourages men to be their best, we feel compelled to both address it and take action of our own. We are taking a realistic look at what’s happening today, and aiming to inspire change by acknowledging that the old saying 'Boys Will Be Boys' is not an excuse. We want to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and hope all the men we serve will come along on that journey to find our 'best' together."