Gillette gets woke, releases ad about bullying, #MeToo, and toxic masculinity

Gillette, the razor company owned by Procter & Gamble has released a new ad (they call it a “short film”) offering a politicized take on bullying and #MeToo. The ad is titled “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” and the theme is simply that men have been a problem for far too long and it’s time to put an end to “toxic masculinity.” The ad features some real video from social media but most of it is composed of scenes intended to evoke bullying on social media, sexual harassment in entertainment, and downplaying of women in corporate boardrooms.


The company claims they just suddenly felt the need to be part of this important social conversation. From the Wall Street Journal:

The latest ad, created by Gillette’s ad agency Grey, is among the first to address the #MeToo movement head on, and to blatantly tell men to change their behavior.

“This is an important conversation happening, and as a company that encourages men to be their best, we feel compelled to both address it and take action of our own,” said Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette brand director for North America in an emailed statement. “We are taking a realistic look at what’s happening today, and aiming to inspire change by acknowledging that the old saying ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ is not an excuse. We want to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and hope all the men we serve will come along on that journey to find our ‘best’ together.”

These social justice ads can backfire if not handled well. Remember the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad which was pulled after an avalanche of criticism? On the other hand, the Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick was considered a big success.

So where does this one fall on the scale? I’d say somewhere in the middle. It’s not a disaster like the Pepsi ad because it does feature some heart-warming, genuine moments near the end. Still, it’s a bit insulting the way the ad portrays men (specifically white men are called out by black men repeatedly in this clip) as needing to hear this lecture from a company that sells razors?


Not to spoil the woke-feels this is intended to generate but this is still marketing and there’s another reason Gillette may be doing this. Have you heard of Harry’s? It turns out Gillette has been losing market share for the past 5-6 years to low-cost upstarts. From the Associated Press:

Harry’s has captured about 2 percent of the $2.8 billion men’s shaving industry since its launch in 2013, according to Euromonitor market research firm. Its main shaving club rival, Dollar Shave Club, has about 8 percent.

It’s been a gut punch to the industry leaders.

Gillette controlled about 70 percent of the U.S. market a decade ago. Last year, its market share dropped to below 50 percent, according to Euromonitor. The company, owned by P&G, was forced to slash its razor prices by an average of 12 percent last year.

The bottom line here is that Gillette has taken a hit and needs some way to win back the new generation of customers that have moved over to cheaper competitors. Cutting prices was part of that strategy, now it’s trying to ingratiate itself with a contingent of young people who make buying decisions based on their political priorities. Sure Harry’s can sell you a great razor at a good price, but do they fight toxic masculinity? And besides, aren’t you willing to pay a bit more for social justice? That’s the pitch.


I hope this doesn’t work, mostly because every time it does work we’re guaranteed to get more of it. I really don’t need to know that Crest supports Antifa (or whatever). Woke is becoming just another signifier for a premium brand and that means a tiresome future full of ads like this one.

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John Sexton 7:20 PM on November 30, 2023
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