From an advertising standpoint, many would consider this to be a work of genius. The goal of any advertisement is to raise awareness of a company and its product, or in other words get people talking. Well, it certainly did that. Some people are outraged by this new video, and the big question is, why? The title of the ad is not the most promising or positive. "Toxic Masculinity" brings to mind all sorts of unpleasantness.
The ad itself simply isn't though. It begins with references to inappropriate behavior, the Me Too movement, bullying, and the infamous "boys will be boys" phrase. The ad asks if this is the best that men can be. The men in the ad respond with a resounding no. They spring into action, standing up to stop bad things from happening, break up fights, and tell their sons that "That's not how we treat each other." The point is that the boys of today will be the men of tomorrow, and they are looking for solid role models. The ad is calling men to be just that.
Not everyone took the ad this way. Many saw it was an attack on men and masculinity, which would be an odd tactic for a company whose target audience is male. A watch company called Egard produced an ad in response to Gillette's, entitled "What is a Man?" They cite statistics throughout theirs, talking about the men who do good in the world, and saying that they "We see the good in men."
The implied message being that Gillette, and perhaps society, does not. Their ad, much like Gillette's definitely evokes emotion, just in the opposite way. We all have men in our lives who matter to us. We also all have men in our lives who have hurt us. Depending on each individual's experiences, one ad may speak more to us than the other. Gillette's ad made me first defensive of the men I respect and care for, but then smile because they are among those who strive for the best. The second ad made me sad, as one of the statistics used is of male suicides. In a world getting harder to tolerate, why are we often too late?
Setting aside the ads themselves, why are a razor and watch companies being the ones to raise this discussion in the first place? What has the world come to that in order to get our attention we need controversial ads? Is the issue masculinity? No. Is the issue of how we treat each other as human beings?
Yes. With the month-long government shutdown, and late-term abortion being legalized in New York, that at least is becoming crystal clear. I'm waiting for an ad to show how we all, both men and women, do horrible things, but can also do wonderful and great things. I'm waiting to see the ad that says we all want what's best for the next generation and shows how we can provide it. I'm waiting for the ad about not what's toxic in our society, but about what's being done right and how we can help. Better yet, I'm waiting for our country's leaders to be the ones leading this discussion, instead of companies trying to sell their products.
Now that would be progress. That would be making America great again.