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The Best A Man Can Get

For thirty years, Gillette has used the tagline “The Best a Man Can Get.” In 2019, however, there is outrage over their latest advertisement short film. 

In the commercial “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be,” Gillette asks its audience if this is the best a man can get while the topics of bullying, the Me Too Movement against sexual harassment, and masculinity echo in the background. Gillette recognizes that, given the changing culture, these types of behaviors are no longer acceptable. These types of behaviors have been laughed off or justified by traditional excuses, but something has finally changed and there will be “no going back.” 

The company then presents a clip of former NFL player and actor Terry Crews stating that “men need to hold other men accountable.” Gillette then offers to Crews’ statement by adding that men need to hold other men accountable to “say the ‘right’ thing [and] to act the ‘right’ way.”

The commercial continues to suggest ways that men can hold other men accountable to say the right thing and to act the right way. The examples include one man responding “come on” when another man refers to a woman as “sweetie” when telling her to smile and one man approaching a woman in a cat call formation when his friend steps in to play defense while informing him that his behavior is not cool. Gillette recognizes that there are some men who are leading the charge against bullying and harassment in both big and small ways. However, more action needs to be taken because the boys that are watching today are going to be men in the future. 

Refusing to read any opinion pieces on this commercial in an effort to preserve the purity of my own opinion, I am confused as to why the campaign is controversial. Men can be better: this is a fact. Women could also be better. Nobody is perfect, which seems to be an indirect premise in Gillette’s advertisement. 

Gillette identifies the problem: men have been getting away with socially unacceptable behavior towards women and each other for far too long. These behaviors have been justified through humor and tradition. 

Gillette offers a solution to the identified problem: men need to hold other men accountable by intervening when men are not saying or doing the right thing.  Gillette appears to define what they mean by doing the right thing when they show one male friend intervening when another male friend is engaging in socially unacceptable behavior. The company simply challenges its audience of men to be better men in regards to sexual harassment and bullying. 

On Gillette’s website, they recognize that brands such as their own influence male culture. If the brand is challenging men to be the best a man can be, then they feel that they have the responsibility to assure that they promote “healthy versions of what it means to be a man.” 

As a part of Gillette’s “The Best Men Can Be” campaign, they are committing to donate $1 million per year for the next three years to nonprofit organizations that execute programs in the United States that “inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal ‘best’ and become role models for the next generation.” 

In my opinion, Gillette is doing nothing wrong. They want to preserve their tagline while utilizing it to address social and political current affairs. Gillette is a private razor company that has succeeded through reaching out to the population of men. Their market of men has made them the company that they are today. Running a campaign to help fund nonprofit efforts to inspire, educate, and help men achieve their best seems to align perfectly with their organizational goals through promoting healthy versions of what it means to be a man. They plan to give back to the market that made them successful. 

Is the campaign sexist? You may believe so. In my opinion, it is not. To believe that the campaign is sexist would be similar to suggesting the Gillette’s business model is sexist. Gillette recognized that there was something missing in the market of razors for men. They began creating razors that addressed the specific needs of men and they succeeded. Now, they recognize a problem within their market of customers, and are choosing to use their own funds to address these issues in a way that they best see fit. 

You can disagree with Gillette; I know I do. I do not need a razor company telling me the “right” way to be a man. I do not personally believe that Gillette is responsible for promoting healthy versions of what it means to be a man. Gillette is a private company operating in a capitalistic economic system.At the end of their day, their responsibility is to provide the best quality items at the lowest available costs to their market. I do not recognize the Gillette marketing team as experts on what it means to be a man, but I do applaud their attempt to join the national conversation on masculinity, bullying, and sexual harassment.

I do not disagree with their efforts, however, to address an issue that they believe exists. Who knew that a campaign to inspire men to be better could be of such uproar? 

I do not think that the ad is controversial. They identify a problem and offer their solution. Whether or not you agree with their campaign, they have the liberty to utilize their profits in the best way that they see fit. I am not inspired by the ad, but I am certainly not offended. The ad suggests that we can do better. We all can do better. 

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