In the wake of #metoo, sometimes you can literally feel the change in the air. But not everyone is completely on board just yet. And, unfortunately, the responses to Gillette's new ad calling for an end to toxic masculinity show why it's so needed in the first place.
As Scary Mommy reported, the giant razor manufacturer has released a new ad campaign in conjunction with its new marketing campaign, "The Best Men Can Be."
The minute-plus ad features frank images of the "old" paradigm... women being groped at work, boys beating each other up while dads shrug, a kid getting bullied by text while his helpless mom looks on.
In the ad, titled "We Believe" — which begins by depicting news coverage of sexual harassment and other forms of "toxic masculinity," as a faux news commentator names it — a narrator says the behavior has "been going on far too long."
The ad then turns to the question of whether or not this sort of behavior aligns with the brand's slogan, "the best a man can get."
"It this the best a man can get? Is it? We can’t hide from it. It has gone on far too long," a narrator explains, as you see images of men catcalling or telling women to smile. A little boy watches as a fight between boys gets blown off.
The ad then shifts to show men stepping in to stop bullying, including footage of former NFL athlete and actor Terry Crews testifying before Congress last June in support of a sexual assault bill. "Men need to hold other men accountable," Crews is heard saying.
"Something finally changed, and there will be no going back," the video concludes. "Because the boys of today will be the men of tomorrow."
Gillette's parent company, Procter & Gamble, hasn't been afraid to incorporate social issues into its advertising, the Wall Street Journal reported. P&G's "Like a Girl" ad campaign for Always feminine pads, for example, took on stereotypes of female behavior and emphasized the fact that at puberty, girls experience greater societal pressure.
The message sent was that girls are strong and powerful — the same "like a girl" phrase that's sometimes used in a mocking manner can actually be a strength; a compliment.
The new campaign was created by Gillette’s ad agency, Grey, according to the Wall Street Journal, and is among the first to address the #MeToo movement head-on.
"This is an important conversation happening, and as a company that encourages men to be their best, we feel compelled to both address it and take action of our own,” Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette brand director for North America, told the newspaper.
It all sounds like progress, right? Except that, as Boston.com reported, not everyone loves an ad that struck me as both needed and touching.
In fact, the new ad received an avalanche of angry responses on Twitter, with hundreds of users pledging to stop buying Gillette products and using such phrases as "left wing propaganda" to dismiss and deride the campaign.
"Your name might be on my football stadium, but you just kissed my business goodbye," a Twitter user wrote, as Boston.com reported. "Boys are not monsters-in-waiting. Period."
When I went on Twitter to see what the fuss was about, I was astounded at the responses; men (and some women) using F-bombs directed at the company, calling the ad "radical feminism, a "war on men" or "cultural Marxism." One memorable Tweet featured a Gillette razor being flushed down the toilet.
There were also other men (and women) chiming in, in support of the ad. Still, the takeaway is that we seem to have a surprisingly long way to go in the notion that there's enough room in society for everyone to play a part, if we can just at least try to work together with mutual respect. You know, like what's taught at my kid's preschool.