People are steamed up over Gillette’s new commercial encouraging men in the #MeToo era to be better, with critics charging the ad is “anti-men.”
Gillette bills the nearly 2-minute commercial as a “short film.” It shows men, young and old, engaged in all manner of bad behavior - from bullying to sexual harassment - and encourages them to hold each other accountable and “be their best.” After the video ad debuted on Gillette’s social media accounts, divided commentary erupted on social media.
Detractors accused the company of being a politically correct scold and of making men look bad. Some people are calling for a Gillette boycott, while other razor companies are inviting Gillette customers to try their product instead.
“Just sell some damn razors and keep your social justice stupidity out of it,” tweeted conservative YouTuber and media analyst Mark Dice. “Looks like it’s @DollarShaveClub from now on.”
The ad begins with men looking at themselves in the mirror as phrases from “news” reports are heard.
“Bullying.” “The Me Too movement against sexual harassment.” “Toxic masculinity.”
“Is this the best a man can get?” the narrator asks as the company’s trademark slogan flashes on the screen.
As images continue to show men behaving badly - on TV, in the boardroom where a man speaks for his female colleague - the narrator continues: “We can’t hide from it. It’s been going on far too long.”
Men are shown excusing the behavior by saying, “boys will be boys.”
“But something finally changed,” the narrator says as more news of the #MeToo movement is heard in the background.. ”And there will be no going back because we, we believe in the best in men.”
Marketing professor Charles Taylor noted in Forbes that the response to the ad “has been overwhelmingly negative, with comments on (Gillette’s) Youtube channel running negative by an astonishing ten to one margin.”
As of Tuesday morning, the commercial on Gillette’s YouTube channel had more than 10,000 thumbs-down compared to nearly 2,000 thousand thumbs-up.
“There are those who really like the ad really like the campaign a lot and argue that it is simply trying to reinforce positive behavior,” Taylor wrote.. However, the much larger group who dislikes it includes many men who are saying the ad is insulting to men and full of stereotypes.”
Along with the ad, Gillette “also pledged $1 million a year to nonprofit groups ‘designed to help men of all ages achieve their personal ‘best,’ changing the conversation of modern manhood for generations to come,” Business Insider reported.
The backlash comes as no surprise to Gillette.
“We expected debate,” Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette’s North America brand director, told CNN. “Actually a discussion is necessary. If we don’t discuss and don’t talk about it, I don’t think real change will happen.
“The ad is not about toxic masculinity. It is about men taking more action every day to set the best example for the next generation. This was intended to simply say that the enemy for all of us is inaction.”
But that’s part of the reason for the backlash, Taylor wrote.
“While corporate social responsibility appeals can be effective, corporations must be sensitive to the potential of consumers being skeptical of their motives, or not wanting to be told how to behave by a profit-motivated company,” he wrote.
After the initial backlash on Monday, praise for the commercial grew louder on Tuesday as more social media users began thanking Gillette for the message.