I don't think it's too far of a stretch to say that political activism is at one of it's highest points in recent years. As with most things, social media has not only amplified activism but made avenues of activism more accessible. There are so many accounts out there tackling some of the most complicated and nuanced issues in our society today. I think over the last decade, we as a society have spent a lot of time reflecting internally and reprioritizing our values.
Somewhere along the line, I think people also began to think more about where their money goes, what products they buy and which companies they support. People nowadays choose their products not only for functionality or quality but what that product is intended to express.
Essentially, when we buy a product or wear a certain brand it's often in an attempt to express some sort of value.
So I think it's only natural that brands are now more aware of not only where they're advertising but the messages they choose to express. For instance, if you wear Patagonia it could get an expression that you enjoy more expensive, high-quality clothes but that you also support fighting climate change of some sorts.
Companies have already begun to think more about their messaging and who they support with their advertising dollars. Keurig at one point pulled their advertising from Sean Hannity, much to the ire of his fans. Most recently, Roku removed the infamous InfoWars channel from their platform, following suit of other platforms such as Facebook and Spotify.
Ultimately, corporations essentially act and are treated as private citizens. They've been influencing politics for so long that it's almost a natural progression that they then begin to influence and make statements on public opinion. Since the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision, spending money on political causes is protected by the First Amendment under free speech. Companies can then give money freely in politics, so long as it wasn't going directly to any politicians. Many companies have already spent hundreds of millions of "dark money" to secretly fund campaigns and political parties.
Gillette wasn't the first company to make a statement/advertisement that comes off as polarizing, and it certainly won't be the last. If anything, these past few years have proven that companies can say such things without fear of greatly damaging their businesses. For instance, Nike's sales increased by 31 percent following their Kaepernick ad. As we become more socially aware, so will the companies that we purchase from.