Gillette ad Sparks Conversation



Kaitlyn Tambasco, Assistant News Editor

Some might say that the latest Nike advertisement involving Colin Kaepernick was controversial. Others might say that the Pepsi commercial involving Kendall Jenner was also controversial. Some might not think they were at all.

Earlier this month, a new commercial from Gillette arose that has also seemed to cause some controversy.

Gillette’s reasoning behind their new “The Best Men Can Be” tagline is that they want to make sure they are “promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man,” according to the company’s website.

Senior Harriet Gyamera had positive opinions about the advertisement and commented that when she first saw it she was surprised. Gyamera did not expect the commercial to be a PSA against harassment, but appreciated the message behind it.

“I think the overall message is very positive,” Gyamera said. “Gillette is basically saying, ‘We know how men are perceived in today’s social climate, but let us show you we can be more than those negative stereotypes.’”

Gyamera also pointed out the importance of companies addressing social issues in their advertisements and said that it is up to the company to make a decision on how bold they want it to be.

“If I were in charge of this advertisement, I would include young men shaving with the older men in their lives, while the older men talk to the younger ones about the current news,” Gyamera said. “That way, Gillette could address the issue, but also show that men who use Gillette are against the behavior that is showcased in the news.”

Elizabeth Burback, a professor of public relations and marketing, also had positive things to say about the advertisement but pointed out that it reminded her of Nike’s advertisement with Colin Kaepernick.

Burback said that the advertisement was not attacking men and that it was a call to action to all of “the good guys” to be the role models for the next generation.

“I also like that they chose to show how the toxic masculinity culture negatively affects women and men,” Burback said. “It’s actually a hopeful message for the future.”

Burback would not change anything about the advertisement if given the opportunity and said it was a calculated move from Gillette to reach a younger demographic, and it is having the effect they were looking for.

Burback pointed out that consumers, especially millennials and Generation Z, want to buy from companies that share the same message that they do and that today’s consumers see brands as part of commerce and culture. Burback would not be surprised if Gillette’s sales increased from the younger demographic.

“While this ad received some initial backlash, it’s generated the buzz the company was looking for and the overall takeaway — ‘Gillette supports the changing culture’ — is what consumers will remember,” Burback said. “If you compare this ad to Nike’s, you’ll see that that ad too faced backlash, but as is the same in this case, the people who vocally opposed the ad are not the ones the company wants to buy the product.”

Senior Nathaniel Drayton said he was in shock at how men were portrayed in the Gillette ad.

“In society, men already get blamed for everything and are treated like scapegoats,” Drayton said. “So, for Gillette to make an ad like this caught me off guard and made me upset.”

Drayton pointed out that he is still unsure of the overall message of the advertisement because it was “all over the place.” Even though Drayton acknowledged the fact that the advertisement was trying to convey more than one message, it was hard for him to understand.

“This ad was aimed towards men when the main products that Gillette sells are for men,” Drayton said. “I would have went a different route and made a regular advertisement.”

Drayton commented that he did not buy any of their products to begin with but thinks the overall sales of Gillette products will decrease.

“I know a lot of men that were offended,” Drayton said. “I’m unsure of how many women buy the products, but I’m sure their sales won’t be enough to stop the company from losing money.”

Rosemary Bonacci, an adjunct instructor of public relations, stated that the advertisement was intriguing. She pointed out that the advertisement caused her to watch it multiple times and said that is a good thing for Gillette.

“The Gillette Company moved out of its comfort zone, addressing current issues such as bullying and sexual harassment against women,” Bonacci said. “The words, ‘We believe,’ are strong and encourage men to be better role models and better men in general.”

Bonacci stated that the advertisement was culturally diverse and positive toward men of color, but the part where a woman was demeaned in a meeting was gut-wrenching.

“Those incidences reminded me of the past and how many working women were treated by male counterparts,” Bonacci said. “While some say the commercial is aimed at millennial and Generation Z men, I also believe that women of all ages appreciate this message.”