Gillette vs. Toxic Masculinity

We discuss the latest marketing campaign from Gillette and the video that has divided social media.

It's still only January and already the world of advertising has been rocked by 1 minute and 48 seconds of video… promoting razors. 

The P&G-owned brand Gillette has been a market leader for over a century and views itself as the world's largest marketer to men. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of their ‘The Best a Man Can Get' strapline, they're now taking a fresh look at what it means to be ‘the best' and focusing squarely on the next generation of masculinity.

Directed by Kim Gehrig of ‘This Girl Can' fame, the marketing campaign (and charitable program donating $1m per year) considers the impact of “toxic masculinity” and showcases examples of how men can change their behaviour to create meaningful actions, and set the right example for their peers, their family and for the new generation of males in society.

For better or for worse, the ad has sparked a huge debate across social media and left many within the industry divided. Here's how the Front office felt about the ad:

“Brands are getting too big for their boots. Who are they to dictate how people raise their children, act or eat. Smells a bit like religion to me. They should stick to selling their products.”

“A global and established brand tackling toxic masculinity in the #MeToo age. On first glance it is the perfect ad for a liberal-lefty like me. But it's the execution where it falls apart - patronising and heavy handed. If Gillette had raised questions that led to positive action I would be more supportive. But instead they chastise without engaging with the problem. Clichés of men leering at women is neither new or disruptive. If a brand is going to respond to the zeitgeist their representations should be from a more honest and insightful position. Otherwise it's just posturing.”

“Such a personal, emotional message shouldn't feel so damn corporate.”

“I think it's very interesting that brands feel like they have a responsibility to voice their opinions or take a stance on current social issues. I can fully understand a brand that is rooted in striving for change, challenging stereotypes etc joining in with these kinds of conversations but this just feels a little desperate. Having said that, this subject has consumed this office and others I assume across the world for two days, bringing this topic to the forefront of our minds once again - even if it hasn't been executed or art directed in the best way, has it done what it was intended to do?”

“Brands dispensing some greater social purpose and expecting me to believe them is a complete untruth. Gillette have no history of preaching in this political space and therefore won't win over many peoples trust. Gillette make steel razor blades, for men presumably that take a little care in their appearance and I'd dare say whom on the whole don't fall in to the stereotypical falsehood that they are suggesting. Gillette; get back in line.”

“Firstly for me, I don't feel Gillette have the right to dictate what's right and wrong. They made razor blades at the end of the day, the sentiment for me is lost through its poor art direction and stereotypical actions. Also, from a male point of view, it feels very patronising.”

“If the aim of advertising is to get people talking, then Gillette have really smashed it – 10.3 million views in 3 days is a solid engagement rate, with very little ad spend. The marketing team have done their job without showing a solitary shaver. From a brand messaging POV, it feels very corporate and forced. Ham-handedly trying to jump on the #MeToo bandwagon of social justice, whilst also being a prime contributor to the #PinkTax is a bit cynical. However, we shouldn't be surprised in the current snowflake generation, when big brands try to open a discussion about creating a better culture – we're constantly being told that Gen Z-ers need meaningful conversations around social responsibility, honesty and self-reflection in order to engage. They were never going to solve everything in two minutes."

Let us know your thoughts online.

Last Updated: 16/01/2019
Author: Joe Chetcuti

No comments made yet

Add Your Comment

* required fields

Thanks for visiting

Download our quick one page guide to writing a great creative brief:

  • First principles
  • Understanding your audience
  • Keeping the brief brief
  • What to include


Promo Splash Form

* required fields


COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

We're still here to help brands grow in these difficult times.

Things may take a little longer as we deal with projects remotely. 

Please use our contact form to get in touch.

Stay safe

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)