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The boys watching today; will be the men of tomorrow


US-based men’s shaving brand, Gillette, released ‘We Believe’: a campaign challenging its core demographic – men – to take responsibility for tackling toxic masculinity.

The company twisted its classic slogan (“The best a man can get”) into “The best a man can be”, to reinforce its message. Achieving 10 million-plus views in under two days this week, Gillette’s ad spot referenced the #MeToo movement, bullying and other negative male behavior (both towards women and other men) and challenged the ‘boys will be boys’ sentiment. The campaign ended by praising the good men who strive to counteract this aggression.

There’s so, so much we could say about this. But here are a couple of quick insights that we haven’t seen raised in the thousands of words that have already been written about this campaign:

– Heritage heresy. Gillette explicitly references its old ads, suggesting that they represent an outdated and sexist view of masculinity. This is a bold move, but a clever one as the implicit message is that ‘we were all guilty of this’, rather than simply lecturing people. We can imagine that calling the brand’s heritage might not have gone down well with some of the more ‘senior’ executives.  If you want to make a bold statement about society, then perhaps acknowledging that your history isn’t perfect might help you connect with people, too?  

– More than words. Gillette’s campaign is a powerful one. But it’s made more so because brand has also pledged to donate USD 1 million per year for the next three years to organizations that support men’s personal development. Plus, the campaign hasn’t come out of the blue. Gillette launched its ‘Soldier for Women’ campaign in India back in 2013 (after the horrific rape of a student on a bus highlighted country’s struggles with toxic masculinity) urging men to stand up for women.

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