Backlash As Gillette Asks People To Be Nice

January 18, 2019

The shaving cream is flying as social media fires up over a new Gillette campaign. PAT PILCHER takes a look. 

Just when you thought the open sewer that is social media couldn’t get any more insane, it did just that. This time people on Twitter are collectively losing their minds at Gillette, a shaving product company. On Tuesday, Gillette released an advert taking aim at sexual harassment, bullying and the over-used and much abused excuse, ‘boys will be boys’.

The ad is a departure from the usual cliched foamy faced model gliding razors over sculpted chins and instead uses the trademarked Gillette tagline ‘A best a man can get’ to ask men to be nicer. Gillette is, in effect, permitting men to to hold other men accountable for shitty behaviour. The campaign shows men stopping a pack of bullies and preventing a bloke from harassing a woman.

After the ad aired, people started flushing Gillette razors down the toilet. Angry tweets flew through the cyber-sphere. A small (but vocal) minority were outraged at the commercial.

Men’s rights activists and other over-rated idiots, including Piers Morgan, went mad. Piers tweeted that, “I’m so sick of this war on masculinity & I’m not alone – with their pathetic man-hating ad, Gillette have just cut their own throat”.

So, did Gillette declare war on men? Let’s take a closer look.

Nowhere in the advert is any hate dished out to men. Showing poorly behaved males isn’t man hating. If anything, Gillette is simply asking males to be nice. Correct me if I am wrong, but surely that is the opposite of hate?

The backlash from other insecure idiots has been predictably swift and just as silly. On YouTube, the commercial got downvoted over 330,000 times. In the UK and US (who right now can both hardly be called bastions of rationality) militant male supremacy organisations have been shouting for their supporters to boycott Gillette. Sensing blood in the water, a Gillette competitor embraced some shameful opportunism, stepping into the fray saying that they ‘understand how men work and don’t try to change them into women’. Perhaps instead of trying to make a fast buck, they could do the right thing and not endorse such thuggery. Besides, women shave too.

Not all the responses have been negative. Bette Middler crafted a witty response on twitter that quipped: “It’s not like #Gillette’s asking you to shave your whole body, wear makeup, perfume, high heels, not eat too much in public and not be above or below a certain weight…Right?”

Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette’s North America brand director, was quoted on CNN saying, “The ad is not about toxic masculinity. It is about men taking more action every day to set the best example for the next generation.”

So why are people potentially blocking their plumbing by such stupid acts as flushing razors and collectively losing their minds? With Piers Morgan, the answer is most likely a grasp for ratings. Is it that the masculinity of these people is so frail that they’re so deeply offended by an advert that asks them to be nicer? How hard can it be to do the right thing and act like a grown up?

It isn’t as if Gillette is making this stuff up, either. Bullying and sexual harassment are rampant – the #METOO movement didn’t just pop into existence for fun.

The issues identified by the Gillette campaign are real. Gillette ought to be congratulated for bringing them out into the open where they can be discussed. Sadly, it seems that asking some people to behave like civilised human beings is a step too far. By adopting the position on the Gillette campaign that Piers Morgan has on social media, he is in effect all but endorsing sexual harassment and bullying. This is not a good look for such a high profile celebrity. 

Gillette meanwhile has the tiger by the tail and have got brand cut-through (bad pun!) that many consumer brands can only dream of. It isn’t the first time that this sort of thing has happened, and as history has shown, these marketing strategies usually pay big dividends. Just look at how Nike’s revenues leapt after their ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick.

So how about it men, let’s do the right thing. It’s okay not to think that bullying and sexual harassment is okay. Is this the best a man can get?

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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