A few days ago Gillette released a commercial that asked men to basically understand that their behavior has repercussions. The commercial in question is a short film called We Believe: The Best Men Can Be. During the commercial, there are several mentions of the MeToo movement and sexual harassment. There are several images of men groping women in a comical way, men catcalling and boys fighting and being bullied. All the while Gillette is including themselves in our tendency to let this behavior happen in the open.
It’s a good commercial that asks men to check their attitudes about women and those we deem weaker than us because our kids are watching and they are also learning; learning how to be men by watching their fathers, or uncles or even their older friends. Taking a look at Gillette’s new website website will give you a look at their mission statement and how they are holding themselves accountable for the past thirty years of advertising how men should look and feel. They talk about having goals to promote men to be inclusive, positive and healthy.
This is a worthy campaign and unfortunately, people reacted about as well as you would expect.
Some men, myself included, are seemingly getting the wrong idea about this ad. At first, I felt that the ad was a waste of time. I didn’t need a razor company to tell me how to treat other people. My parents taught me from a very young age that you should be respectful of other people, regardless of what they look like or whether you agree with them. It was always easy for me. I didn’t bully other people when I was younger, I never grabbed a co-worker by their backside or chest and I never raised a fist in anger unprovoked. I was fine, I am fine, and I do not need a razor company telling me to be a better person.
But then I got curious about the response to this ad. Sure, there are plenty of people that are going to bury their head and let Fox News tell you what they think. But as I started thinking about this ad and kept thinking about it in the days since (something a good ad is supposed to do), and I started really thinking about the kind of guy I was before I was married and had children. Ten years ago, I was not someone I would enjoy being around now. I drank a lot, I didn’t care about others and I certainly didn’t care about what you thought of me. While today I’m not exactly a shining example of what a man can be, I certainly try my hardest to just be a good person because that’s who my wife and children deserve.
Now, I’m not going to make this ad about me and my beliefs, because this ad is intending to start a conversation while selling you a product. Let’s not be mistaken, Gillette is still hoping to sell you something, that’s the point of advertisement. But commercials can do more than tell you when it’s cool to go to the bathroom during your favorite show or baseball game. A commercial can be something that makes you reflect upon your station in life or the world’s climate. Remember when “Got Milk” was on t-shirts? Remember “Where’s the beef?”? While these are jokes that people of a certain age can remember fondly, these are also shining examples of an advertisement doing its job.
And have you seen this commercial for life insurance, you know, the one that reminds you to be a good person, not for personal gain, but just because being a good person is physically and emotional rewarding?
Today, it seems harder and harder to do anything without irritating someone. Some guys, not all, saw this new ad from Gillette and thought that this razor company was calling all men and their behavior toxic. It wasn’t. It was highlighting the behavior of some men and reminding us that it is not right.
If you want to talk about an ad from Gillette, you should talk about this one here.
This advertisement for the Gillette Treo might just be a complete work of fiction trying to sell a razor. The people involved may very well be actors doing their job, but the situation they’re in is a very real one. More and more people are finding themselves in need of others due to age and their bodies breaking down. Something we will all have to deal with.
But no one wants to talk about that.
You shouldn’t feel bad about the gender you are. No commercial should make you regret being a man or a woman. But what you should do is be a good person, and for no reason other than it’s the right thing to do. Gender has nothing to do with being good. I’m not going to tell you to not grab someone inappropriately because I shouldn’t have to. Your parents should have already done that. You shouldn’t give a damn about someone’s skin color or what god they worship or who they sleep with. The only thing you should do, is look at yourself very hard and ask yourself if you would want to hang out with that person. Would you like yourself if you met you at a party? Don’t worry about a razor company asking you hard questions; ask why it took a razor company asking you hard questions to get you to confront them. And if you think that the Gillette company is calling you a bad man all of a sudden, they’re not, because a lot of their commercials over the last couple of decades have had an emphasis of showing men with their families along with the occasional fighter jet that turns into a model.
But none of this will make any difference as long as people are getting upset at being told that there are bad behaviors and habits that both men and women live with. Intimidation and fear are something we all have to deal with daily, a razor commercial won’t change that. But how we react to it, will.