The Gillette Commercial: Why this ad didn’t work


Last week, Gillette brought out a new short film commercial about masculinity and supporting the #MeToo movement. This commercial implies that men and boys behave in a stereotyped negative way and that this is not “the best a man can get.” They did this by emphasizing some male stigmas as: saying “boys will be boys” about two boys fighting each other, men who are sexual harassing women and boys who bully other kids.

Within a week, this ad was viewed over 23 million times. Apart from that, what is more remarkable, is that it has twice as many dislikes than likes. Namely, over 1.1 million dislikes and about 600k likes. Besides this like-dislike distribution, a lot of men see this video as offensive against the male gender. This led to men not wanting to buy the Gillette products anymore, because of this offensive connotation. Considering that Gillette is a brand based on men, why would they make a commercial that would take down their target audience?

Hegemonic masculinity

Lately, there has been a lot of turmoil about toxic masculinity. This refers to a narrow repressive type of ideas about the male gender role, or hegemonic masculinity. This defines masculinity as exaggerated masculine traits like being violent, dominant and sexual aggressive. Although hegemonic masculinity is perceived as a bad thing, and I personally feel that we don’t need a specific gender role, not all men show signs of hegemonic masculinity. Moreover, the majority of men do not show signs of this in their daily life or in the uprising of their children, in contrast to what this ad implies.  

Furthermore, this ad seems to be over-stereotyping all men. They are saying that this hegemonic masculine behaviour isn’t “the best men can get”. Although it is true, by specially stating ‘men’, it seems as if they are targeting all men. This is implying that all men are behaving in this way and that they should change.

Boys will be boys

Whilst I think it is important to have a conversation about the effects of hegemonic masculinity, these effects are not as obvious as they are portraying. Let’s take the part of the ad in which they portray that all men are barbecuing and their kids are fighting each other, saying “boys will be boys”. Having this behaviour does not mean somebody is a bad man. It rather means that this person lacks parenting skills and should improve its parenting skills. However, by seeing it this way, it looks like Gillette is trying to say that all men lack parenting skills.

Nonetheless, I think it is a good thing that they tried to show their concern about male behaviour and their support to the #MeToo movement. Even so, I believe there are better ways to show this. As a brand that sells male products, it would have been better to emphasise behaviour of men that support their good intentions and not men that show bad behaviour, as they did now. And while in the end, they tried to show a supportive behaviour, I feel that it was not enough in contrast to what they portrayed before.

Overall, this commercial was not properly executed in my opinion. It led to too much turmoil online. And specially in Gillette’s target group. However, I do like their intentions. I totally agree with starting a conversation about the bad effects of hegemonic masculinity and about supporting the #MeToo movement. So, it could have been an inspiring commercial, but it just didn’t work out that way. Let me know what you think about the commercial. Do you think Gillette’s intentions were good? And this commercial was poorly executed? Or is there something I missed?



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