Gillette cuts in on the new gender politics

The best a man can be… Our Digital and Data Operations Analyst James Hazell explores how Gillette tweaked its message for a ‘woke’ world

Nike’s campaign with NFL activist Colin Kaepernick provided 2018’s big advertising controversy. We’re only two weeks into 2019, but it looks like shaving brand Gillette could provide this year’s major advertising talking point, with its campaign promoting a new kind of positive masculinity.

Predictably, there has been an instant backlash against the brand. According to Piers Morgan, this new advert is trying to destroy masculinity. As I’m writing this, 649,000 YouTube viewers are outraged by the ad compared to 249,000 who like it.

In a world where everyone is sick of hearing about Trump and Brexit, brands that show a political stance still stand out from the crowd and create endless discussion.

Nike’s campaign with Colin Kaepernick was highly controversial and it had a lot of negative reactions. A few months on and the brand is still going strong. Not a huge surprise for a giant brand like Nike. Similarly, as the leader in its industry, the risks for Gillette’s brand with its new ad are small.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, the ad highlights behaviours that have come to be known as ‘toxic masculinity’ – such as bullying, sexual harassment and sexist media reporting – and suggests that it’s up to men to be better and call time on such behaviour.

They’re right – If you’re offended or worried about the #metoo campaign, you’re probably worried that you’ve put a foot wrong in the past. Someone tweeted this the other day, and it hits the nail on the head.

Of course, change is scary, but moral compasses are shifting in this ‘woke’ era. Men don’t have to do much, just adopt the habit of empathy. Brands are looking at where they fit in this landscape. Everyone wants to be seen as a good person, so why not do it by using Gillette? You probably use Gillette products already.

As with Nike, I’ll be using Gillette more. Why would I be offended by a brand promoting empathy? Mass generalisations like this are only offensive if you conform to the type.

Masculinity isn’t going extinct, it’s just heading in a new direction. We’re not the same people as we were in 1940, so I’m embracing change. I dream of a time when these issues aren’t issues anymore, and Gillette can go back to promoting its new 10 blade razor – assuming such a thing will eventually surface.

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