Gillette: The best that advertisements can be?

The well-known company has found themselves in an awkward situation with their release of “The Best Men Can Be”

Vincent Towne, Staff Writer

I think by now, we all know about Gillette’s controversial “The Best Men Can Be” advertisement. The advertisement was first put up on YouTube on Jan. 13, 2019, and it immediately received a rush of attention, but maybe not the type of publicity the company was aiming for, (considering that it quickly became one of the most disliked videos on the site). Gillette received a large backlash from men, largely conservative, who didn’t think that the advert was appropriate. And I can see why people would be a little miffed at them.

The ad featured the idea that men can and should do better. Now by all means I agree with this statement; we as people should always strive to improve ourselves in every aspect of our lives. The majority of the people that have complained about this ad have expressed that they aren’t as much offended as they are put off by it. The message was not completely flawed, but how they went about portraying it in the ad wasn’t very effective or clear.

Throughout the entire ad, many felt that it was shoveling half of the world’s population into a packaged stereotype of “toxic masculinity.” I commend Gillette for wanting to improve people, but it should be from a standpoint of positivity. The advertisement proceeded to portray what most people would characterize as misbehavior, to be a biological trait that all men are born with and must control. It’s not offensive, it’s just not the best idea to accuse men of being bad by nature. Are men really all just insensitive, intrusive people, with no individual personality? The ad featured the phrase “boys will be boys” like it was an outdated idea, or something to avoid. It showed a few boys in a suburban backyard rough housing, acting like it was a warning sign of a violent future. Time and time again, Gillette tried to tell their message, but each time they came across as unclear or assuming.

The children on the lawn wasn’t the only part of the ad people wish Gillette could clear up a little. Other parts of it were just as responsible for the controversy, like the scene where a man saw a woman pass by on the street. Instead of just watching her walk by and never see her again, the man decided to approach the woman and I’d assume talk to her like a normal human being. But before he could get more than two steps, a random guy stepped out of a building and stopped him while shaking his head in disappointment. Again, I agree that we all need to try to be a better person, but really, can a man not approach a woman? Is that considered a bad thing? Would Gillette rather criticize a normal, if not expected, human interaction?

I feel like I’m getting on a tangent, but still, I’m not bashing this because I somehow think it’s politically charged against my views. I don’t care if it’s considered a left wing or a right wing agenda, I will bash it equally. The problem with politics is that it ignores the person. It tosses a group of people into an indiscernible, ugly conglomerate and packages it for whoever disagrees with a certain view, and because of politics and people taking this personally, there have been people on the opposite side making their own assumptions and whining just as much. People state their opinion like it’s a fact and convict Gillette of some horrible crime against humanity. After saying this, I’d like to add that I don’t agree with these people commenting on Gillette’s commercial like it’s contributing to some conspiracy against men. It’s not. It was just a poorly executed advertisement of an otherwise good message.

I think that Gillette could have made this commercial in a much different way while still being able to hold the same message. For example, during the 2015 Super Bowl, Dove made their Real Strength ad, and it was successful. Instead of tearing people down, they showed a series of clips that showed fathers, brothers, sons and husbands all there for their family. It motivated men to be the best example of manhood to those around them.

Even though I don’t care what political stance was taken, if Gillette really was trying to go that route and please a certain political group, they should be ashamed. That’s a dirty, self-centered move made in a very touchy way. If their goal was to reach a certain side of this politically polarized country, then they achieved it, but not without ostracizing others. I hope that the future of advertisements and companies in general do not stand for the right or left just for monetary gain.