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Gillette Won't Pull TV Ad That Targets 'Toxic Masculinity,' Despite Backlash

Gillette has no plans to pull a new TV spot that asks if a “boys will be boys” mentality is truly “the best a man can get.”

Titled “We believe” (and embedded above), the commercial intercuts vignettes of dad-approved bullying, the verbal and physical harassment of women and other examples of toxic masculinity. A narrator remarks that such behavior has “been going on far too long,” and while “some” of its exhibitors have learned to act “the right way,” “some is not enough.”

“It’s been going on far too long… we can’t laugh it off,” the script reads. “Something finally changed, and there will be no going back, because we believe in the best in men…. to say the right thing, to act the right way…. Some already are, in ways big and small…. but some is not enough. Because the boys watching today… will be the men of tomorrow.”

While many have applauded the men’s personal care brand’s messaging, some are calling out Gillette and parent company Procter & Gamble for “virtue signaling” and lumping all men into one, deplorable basket.

“I’ve been buying Gillette products for 55 years … no more,” wrote one commenter on Gillette’s YouTube channel. “I glean from this that most men are dogs, and that is simply not true.”

At least one beard-care rival has attempted to poach disenfranchised Gillette users, tweeting, “Gillette is part of the anti-male SJW movement. Any men who are sick of this can come right on over to us … where we understand how men work and don’t try to change them into women.”

The blustery reactions that professed great offense of course seemed to underscore the point being made. “I was [expecting] a tone-deaf ad that insulted men and all I saw was an ad with a message that many can relate to,” someone noted on Twitter. “People are so incapable of nuanced thought it hurts.” Added another: “Lotta fragile bros … only proving it right.”

Many see the TV spot as only reinforcing age-old parental guidance. “I was raised to always try and be better, to treat women with respect, and to know that we are equals,” one man said on Twitter. “I don’t see any problem with having an ad that suggests we should expect more from the men out there who aren’t living up to that standard.”

In response to the incidences of backlash, including appeals to take the commercial off the air, a Gillette brand director said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal, “We recognize it’s sparking a lot of passionate dialogue — at the same time, it’s getting people to stop and think about what it means to be our best selves, which is the point of the spot.”

(As the Journal notes, it appeared that Nike would take it on the chin last year for a spot that sided with NFL players who kneel. Yet despite some backlash, sales rose 10 percent.)

As part of a larger The Best Men Can Be campaign, Gillette is donating $1 million per year for the next three years to U.S-based non-profit organizations “designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal ‘best’ and become role models for the next generation,” starting with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

What are your thoughts on the Gillette ad/messaging?