Conservative customers are dumping their Gillette razors en masse in response to the company’s recent controversial ad which denounces ‘toxic masculinity’ and calls on boys to be ‘the best a man can get’.
After the ad was released on Monday, shocked viewers took to Twitter to separate themselves from the brand.
They felt the commercial, which invokes the tone of the past year in pop culture and the #MeToo movement to inspire men to stand up for women and equality, unfairly made out that all males were misogynist.
Some did not go so far in their critique of it but were angry that the household name had politicized itself.
Among the countless tweets from disgruntled and ‘disappointed’ customers were complaints such as ‘you just lost a customer’ and ‘being a man is not a disease.’
‘I want to shave, not feel bad about myself,’ quipped one customer.
Outrage: American men, and some women, boycotted Gillette on Tuesday in response to the controversial ad
Shares in the shaving brand’s parent company, Procter & Gamble, were up
Not all of the complaints were from men.
‘As the mother of 3 sons and a grandson, it is beyond offensive to me,’ wrote Denise West from Memphis, Tennessee, adding that it was a ‘pathetic example of companies pandering to political correctness at the expense of men.’
Other slammed the company’s marketing strategy. They said the ad alienated its entire customer base.
Using the hashtag #gowokegobroke, they compared it to other companies whose bottom lines have suffered as a result of their politically correct public messages.
But the backlash did nothing to deter the markets.
As of midday, shares in the razor brand’s parent company, P&G, were up by .9 percent.
Powerful message: Gillette’s new ad takes on ‘toxic masculinity,’ including bullying, sexism, and sexual harassment
Looking to the future: Titled ‘We Believe,’ the ad depicts a group of bullies chasing a boy through a movie screen showing a vintage Gillette ad
Full of meaning: The boy runs through a living room as a mom consoles her son who is a victim of bullying
Challenging social norms: The commercial highlights all the different ways the mistreatment of women has been normalized over the years
Mansplaining: In one scene, a man speaks over his female colleague and explains what she means
The ad, titled ‘We Believe,’ begins with shots of different men looking in the mirror as audio of news about the #MeToo movement plays in the background.
‘Is this the best a man can get? Is it?’ a voiceover asks as a group of bullies chase a victim through a movie screen showing a vintage Gillette ad.
The commercial continues by highlighting all the different ways the mistreatment of women has been normalized over the years, including a group of male cartoon characters whistling at a woman and a sitcom scene that shows the lead character grabbing his maid’s backside while the audience laughs.
‘Boys will be boys,’ a dad says as he watches his son fight someone.
The ad was directed by Australian director Kim Gehrig
The ad stresses that toxic masculinity and the long-running excuses defending it should no longer be tolerated.
‘We can’t hide from it. It’s been going on far too long,’ the voiceover says. ‘We can’t laugh it off. Making the same old excuses.
‘But something finally changed, and there will be no going back. Because we, we believe the best in men, to say the right thing, to act the right way. Some already are, in ways big and small.
The commercial shows a clip of actor Terry Crews, a victim of sexual assault, saying: ‘Men need to hold other men accountable.’
It also depicts a number of men stepping in to stop their friends from telling women to smile or catcalling them as they walk by.
Instead of letting his son fight, one dad rushes over and breaks it up, telling him that isn’t how you treat people.
The ad then ends with a voiceover that says having just some men step in ‘is not enough because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.’
The thought-provoking video was directed by Kim Gehrig, who was selected through Procter & Gamble’s partnership with Free the Bid, a program that advocates for more female directors on ads.
Activist: The commercial shows a clip of actor Terry Crews, a victim of sexual assault, saying: ‘Men need to hold other men accountable’
Stand up for what’s right: The ad shows one man stopping his friend as he catcalls a woman who is walking by
Not having it: Instead of saying ‘boys will be boys,’ a dad stops his son from fighting with another little boy
‘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,’ Gillette brand director Pankaj Bhalla told the Wall Street Journal in an emailed statement.
‘We are taking a realistic look at what’s happening today, and aiming to inspire change by acknowledging that the old saying “Boys Will Be Boys” is not an excuse.
‘We want to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and hope all the men we serve will come along on that journey to find our “best” together.’
Along with the ad, Gillette has launched the new site, TheBestMenCanBe.org, which provides more detail about its new stance.
According to the site, the shaving brand has pledged ‘to donate $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations executing programs in the United States designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal “best” and become role models for the next generation.’
While only time will tell how the ad will affect sales, Gillette has risked alienating its longtime customers with the socially conscious message.
Dean Crutchfield, CEO of branding firm Crutchfield + Partners, told the Wall Street Journal that the brand should focus on appealing to millennials who care about what companies stand for.
Upon the ad’s release, many men, particularly conservatives, flooded Twitter with their criticisms of the message, claiming the brand was attacking masculinity.
‘I hope Gillette’s smear gets the same market response as Dick’s Sporting Goods when they turned against their customers. Count this 30-year customer out,’ one person commented.
‘A society that emasculated its men will quickly be replaced by one that doesn’t,’ Paul Joseph Watson tweeted.
Some fans of the ad wondered if the critics had even bothered to watch it before slamming it online.
‘Wow, so many of the comments here just go to prove why commercials/videos like this are necessary. At no point in this commercial did it say all men are guilty of these actions, yet here are so many men defending themselves.’
Someone else added: ‘Men on this post *freaking out* about it and claiming they’re going to boycott Gillette is everything you need to know about how they see their own masculinity. Weak.’
Nike received similar backlash over its controversial ‘Just Do It’ ad starring Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who led players’ protests for racial injustice by kneeling during the pregame national anthem.
While critics, including President Donald Trump, predicted the widely praised ad would ruin the company, Nike saw a 31 per cent increase in sales in the aftermath of the endorsement deal.