Losing their edge: Why is Gillette going soft?


“Is this the best a man can get?”

That’s the opening line of Gillette’s newest ad. The line is said as various audio clips from news reports play, addressing issues like bullying, the #MeToo movement, and toxic masculinity.

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As one boy runs from a gang of children chasing him, and another boy cries in his mother’s arms, text bubbles appear.

“Freak!”

“Sissy!”

“Everyone hates you.”

This ad is obviously meant to pull out some strong emotions. While many people view #MeToo and toxic masculinity as problems invented by “Millenial snowflakes,” the issue is much bigger.

“We can’t hide from it,” the narrator intones. “It’s been going on far too long.”

Suicide is now the #1 cause of death in children, teenagers, and young adults ages 5-24. That’s a staggering statistic. During the time of their lives when they’re supposed to feel the most supported and protected, children are killing themselves. According to The Anti-Bullying Institute, 160,000 children in the United States miss school every day out of fear of being attacked or due to intimidation by other students. One out of every 10 children who drop out of school does so because of bullying.

“We can’t laugh it off,” the narrator says, as clips from sexist cartoons and television shows flicker past. A man interrupts his female colleague at a business meeting saying, “What I actually think she means is…”

On average, American women make 80 cents for every dollar their male coworkers earn. In addition, as more women enter male-dominated professions, the average pay in those professions drop. And the pay bias exists in spite of a woman having the same education and experience as her male colleagues.

“Making the same old excuses.” An endless line of men stands at their grills watching two young boys fight, saying “boys will be boys.”

Psychology Today has pointed out phrases such as “boys will be boys” oversimplifies problematic aggression in children. Often this ignores other factors (such as undiagnosed developmental or mental health issues) that may be causing the problem.

It’s also often used to justify bullying, homophobia, and other negative behaviors. Fifty-seven percent of boys have been bullied due to religious or cultural differences, and 9 out of 10 LGBT children experience harassment.

Taking a turn, Gillette then begins looking to the future. “Something finally changed,” the narrator states. “And there will be no going back.”

The ad goes on to show a shift in culture, with men beginning to stop other men from harassing women and breaking up fights between children.

The final moments of the commercial state:

“It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get closer to our best.”


Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.

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