posted on: Thursday January 24, 2019
This past week, Gillette released their “The Best Men Can Be” advertisement, which immediately drew both praise and criticism from the public.
While many viewers praised Gillette’s message of the importance of rethinking how masculinity is taught and expressed, many critics argued that the commercial is anti-men.
The commercial shifts from depicting the current state of masculinity to showing what the world would be like if men held each other accountable and pivoted away from the “boys will be boys” mentality.
While it may seem strange that a brand such as Gillette would release an advertisement with such a strong social commentary, there is still an immense amount of value in brands taking responsibility to promote social change.
In order to spark social change, companies with large social platforms must use their voices to spread awareness.
With the “The Best Men Can Be” advertisement, Gillette is promoting the message that toxic masculinity only further encourages bullying and sexual harassment, and that all men have a responsibility to teach the next generation how to be better.
Some of the criticisms of the advertisement are that we do not need this message and that it is really an attack on men.
These criticisms, however, miss the true goal of the advertisement: emphasizing the importance of teaching future generations to be better than previous ones.
It is hard to argue that there are not seemingly endless ways in which generations can improve, socially and politically. As shown by the global spread of the #MeToo movement over the past few years, sexual harassment and violence against women is very prevalent in today’s society.
While men are not the only perpetrators of sexual harassment, they still have a responsibility to stick up for those who are affected.
Gillette has been heavily criticized for using the advertisement to attack and blame men for all of society’s problems; however, the commercial does the exact opposite of that.
By the end of the commercial, it is clear that the message Gillette is trying to get across is that they believe that men have the potential to enact significant, meaningful social change.
Gillette is not calling for a dramatic upheaval of society and destruction of the patriarchy, they are simply calling for recognition of the dangerous belief systems and attitudes that enable unequal power structures.
The advertisement in and of itself is not anti-men, as many critics have claimed it to be. Because Gillette is a brand centered around products for men, the commercial sends the message that it is men who not only have the ability, but the responsibility, to influence future generations to be better.
Ultimately, the “The Best Men Can Be” commercial achieved what Gillette wanted: it gained immediate attention and sparked controversy.
Just because one of the main purposes of the advertisement may have been to help Gillette raise profits and gain new customers, this should not take away from the impact that the campaign has had.
Brands that are as well-known and influential as Gillette should use their platforms to promote social change as much as possible. Any opportunity to raise awareness and advocate for change should be taken, even if it may be misunderstood by some.