Gillette’s ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Ad is Actually Quite Intoxicating

Despite the uproar over the brand addressing #MeToo in its advertising, it provides a unique opening: to distinguish gentlemen from knuckle draggers

You have to give credit where credit is due when it comes to Gillette’s new commercial. Consider the uphill battle that must have taken place in corporate boardrooms, creative agencies and in the final stretch when the brand’s marketing officers pushed for executive approval at Procter & Gamble (which owns the brand). The mere fact this creative execution made it from storyboard to screen is mind-blowing, given the amount of stress and anxiety ad executives had to endure to garner approvals.

And in doing so, they started what may be the most important dialogue about masculinity we’ve had in decades.

For fathers who want their sons to conduct themselves like gentlemen as they mature, the current state of affairs represents nothing less than, ‘extreme conditions.’ Rarely in history have we seen such a deep divide between how each gender approaches one another (on a cultural level). There was the right to vote movement, women’s liberation and the Anita Hill scandal but this feels different. For three years we have witnessed dozens of men accused, and in some cases, convicted for harassing, assaulting and in some cases raping women.

Those who were once considered icons, like Bill Cosby, are now felons. We have yet to see the likes of Harvey Weinstein get his day in court. As a nation, we should support the legal process before we pass judgment rather than consume ourselves at the moment with social-media posts which rarely provide sober assessments and evidence. We should reserve judgment on someone’s conduct and character only after a legal verdict has been made.

In the midst of this cultural upheaval, a brand comes forth to take a stand against men behaving badly. They spent hard-earned media dollars, funds reserved to drive greater sales, to make a point. That takes courage. Gillette used creative messaging to illustrate that certain forms of social behavior among men are no longer tolerable and we need a different approach to bridge the divide between men and women.

What’s not to love? Speaking as a man who’s been married nearly fifteen years and raising a small boy, this ad speaks to me. I want my son to treat the women he encounters in life with the same level of respect I have for my wife. It’s simple: treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. As a man, conduct yourself like a gentleman – few things will go wrong if you do. If you’re a father, work hard to raise a gentleman. Show him the upside of exuding respect and appreciation towards the opposite sex. He should expect nothing less in return.

Which brings me back to the brand. Gillette, in essence, is indirectly telling men to conduct themselves as gentlemen.

Well done and bravo, Gillette. 


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