Well done for both entirely missing the point, and making it at the same time.
Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Yes? Then it has done its job. It’s making ad-land discuss toxic masculinity in a way that countless newspaper think pieces, actor testimonials and a President who grabs women by the p***y hasn’t managed to.
‘They’re copying Nike!’ you cry – and that’s a bad thing how? Nike massively increased sales and brought a political and social issue to the forefront of brand land. Damn straight they’re copying Nike.
‘I don’t act like the men in the ad! Not all men act like this!’ you cry – Seriously? You know #NotAllMen is used by incels and meninists and others who actively vilify women? OF COURSE Gillette aren’t saying all men catcall women, but they ARE saying that all men need to step up and speak up when thing like this happen. Pay attention to the heroes of the ad, not the villains – shouldn’t that be obvious?
‘This is opportunistic and hypocritical, Gillette still make pink ‘lady’ razors etc.’ you cry – ohhhh believe me we’re well aware of the negatives of Gillette’s you-must-have-smooth-legs-or-you-are-not-a-woman ideology, but if we criticised every brand who had a problematic history, products or process who nonetheless released a socially conscious campaign we’d be here all day. Change happens slowly – look at #MeToo.
‘This doesn’t connect to Gillette’s brand history, they don’t have a legacy of toxic masculinity’ you cry – OK maybe it’s just me, but years and years of ads featuring an unbelievably sculpted young man with washboard abs rubbing his chiselled jawline in the mirror while some hot model woman in not many clothes looks on adoringly from the background feels fairly toxic to me. They even reference these ads in the campaign.
‘What do barbeques have to do with toxic masculinity?’ you cry – I can’t remember ever seeing a film clip, ad or even actual BBQ where a woman grilled the meat. When something so simple and everyday completely excludes women, it shows us just how deep the problem goes.
Look, is it the best ad ever made? No. Is the message a little clunky? Sure. But the message is there. A huge brand is saying it. They are sparking debate and in doing so showing us how far behind we as a society are in overcoming these toxic behaviours. Yes, I hope they stick with it, and I really really hope they overhaul Venus next. But to those of you who feel threatened, instead of lashing out – take a breath, pause a moment, and think about why you’re doing so – that is the point after all.
By Becks Collins, Project Director and Cultural Analyst at Canopy Insight. Follow them @canopyinsight
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