The Brilliance Behind Gillette’s Newest Ad
The Razor Blade and Hygiene Company Exposes Toxic Masculinity
Advertisements in themselves are an art— and a powerful one at that. Although movies and other visual mediums have the ability to entertain an audience through sight, advertisements have a sole purpose to convince and inform viewers. The validity that they carry has the potential to change an entire population’s opinion.
Think about how propaganda was used to influence the youth during the 20th century. Films and art became consumed with the mission of enticing young men to join the military and fight the evils of our world. Even when people didn’t want to join the war efforts at first, advertisements still managed to increase sign up— and the draft, but that’s another story.
Today, ads and commercials are used to influence people to consume products. With our decreasing attention span of eight seconds, ads have been rooted into our society as effective tools to convey messages. They’re cheap and easy to make, quick to display, and can have a larger impact in one minute than a two-hour film.
These advertisements have developed into a reflection of our world.
Erving Goffman, a sociologist who studied the interactions and impressions between people, coined the term commercial realism as a way to describe how propaganda is correlated to views in society. Studying the purpose of identities within social groups, Goffman focused on how women are being portrayed in media. The objectification of the female body has been ridiculously manipulated to get people interested in everything from hamburgers to suntan lotion. Goffman realized that in modern advertisements, women are specifically depicted as childlike, reserved, unbalanced, and delicate. America in the 1900s was (and still is) a patriarchy with unjust gender roles, so the images instilled by advertisements reflected how many males viewed women: in need of a strong man. As absurd as these commercials sound and are, they were effective.
This month we saw a company try to change that trend, and boy were they condemned for it.
The #MeToo movement has called for a change in the societal views of masculinity. Toxic masculinity, the support of male dominance over the subordination of common men or women, is a trait that has been wrongly praised for generations. Instead of displaying healthy norms of respect and equity, America’s masculinity complex damages the relationships between men in power and others. This has led to multiple women being sexually harassed and no justice served, a constant fear of sexual harassment in the workplace, and a false sense of an obligation for men to never be vulnerable— to name a few.
Gillette has received backlash for their newest short film, “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be,” because it touches on a sensitive topic that many of their primary consumers find offensive. Referring to an old commercial that sexualizes women and reads, “Gillette: The Best a Man Can Get.” The ad starts by establishing the previous trends of how women are treated in media and society. Furthermore, the social commentary shows things such as mansplaining, inappropriate jokes where a man acts like he’s groping a woman in a sitcom, and boys wrestling with the excuse that boys will be boys.
It then flows into a sequence of men stopping many of these things from happening to portray a higher standard of masculinity where boys and young men can be held accountable for their actions. This call to action is noble, and like the Nike commercial with Colin Kaepernick, many arrogant males are taking offense. Instead of understanding the truth and importance of the advertisement, the comment section on YouTube is plagued with discussions of hatred and oaths to stop buying from the company.
The video has twice as many dislikes (850K) as it does likes (434K). It’s absolutely repulsive to see. This advertisement did more than utilize social commentary to establish a new message behind their brand, but it revealed how messed up males can be in public. Some say that Gillette basically created a business suicide by targeting their main source of money. However, the truth is that maybe P&G (the company that owns Gillette, Head and Shoulders, and so many other popular brands) is trying to isolate its moral audience from its corrupt one— maybe what they didn’t know is just how large this population actually is.
Personally, this advertisement left me with chills. The concept behind it is passionate and recognizes that there needs to be a change in our society, which needs to be now…. Not later and not soon… Now. If the comments under this video are representative and proportional to the male American views of our society, then I don’t want anything to do with them. The video is asking for men to be held to a higher standard. There aren’t any comparisons being made or any isolation of certain people. All it conveys is that putting others down or disrespecting your peers, doesn’t make you a man— it makes you a dick.
We need to look at ourselves in the mirror and be better. We are the examples for the men of tomorrow, therefore let’s be a good one.