Shaving company Gillette has shared a fresh advertising campaign urging men everywhere to confront toxic masculinity and inspire change for the better.
It takes aim at bullying and sexual harassment, urging men to not only check their own behavior but to intervene when they see others engaging in the negative behaviours and harmful stereotypes associated with a style of manhood that needs to be left in the past.
“We can’t hide from it,” a voiceover says in the advert. “It’s been going on far too long.”
The dreaded "it" that's referenced is toxic masculinity — the characteristics traditionally defined as male that can dissuade us from compassion and allow or encourage harmful behaviours.
Stereotypical examples of toxic masculinity include the expectation that men should not express emotions in any other medium than anger; the insistence that crying makes you less of a man; and the maxim that only by attaining sex, financial success, or power can we be manly.
The personal hygiene brand, owned by Procter & Gamble, revisited its 30-year-old slogan “The Best a Man Can Get,” recommitting to the ideals it inspires while asking all men to join them on this journey to finding the “The Best Men Can Be.” This new tagline reflects an expanded view and the brand's choice to shift focus from the product to the user's conscious self-improvement.
Since its release on Monday, the short film has amassed millions of views across social media platforms and in media.
The video was directed by Kim Gehrig, who previously shot the This Girl Can ad campaign with British production company Somesuch.
The company's call to eliminate toxic masculinity has received some backlash from so-called "men's rights activists," but it's clear that the advertisement's message is more a challenge to be better than accusation over past actions — and many are responding to that challenge. There's been a vast outpouring of support from men (and women) for its progressive message across social media.
Once again, I'm very much okay with this shift in cultural standards.— Mika McKinnon (@mikamckinnon) January 14, 2019
"Be a good human" is getting ever-more commercially viable. I'm down with a future where it's cool to be protective and proactive at making the world better. https://t.co/iYsGxBQ9QF
Folks are upset @Gillette? No #men and #masculinity are not #toxic. But #Toxicmasculinity is a cultural belief that real men don’t cry. Real men don't show fear. Real men don't lose. Real men take what they want. This thinking isn't new. It is toxic and it damages men and women. https://t.co/EWBJeRZnZm— Jeffrey Reddick (@JeffreyaReddick) January 15, 2019
Thanks for this Gillette. I agree. We absolutely as men can do a better job instilling better morals and behavior overall with one another. Handing those core values down to our kids is paramount. And don’t tell me it doesn’t exist. Not all of us sure. But enough to change. https://t.co/3UVbnq2WtO— Max Gonzalez (@GassyMexican) January 15, 2019
"By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behaviour, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal 'best,' we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come," said Gary Coombe, Gillette's president.
He added that all content released in the US by the brand will now be subject to new standards that reflect its updated ideals.
“As a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive, and healthy versions of what it means to be a man,” a statement reads on the Gillette website.
“From today on, we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette,” it continued. “In the ads we run, the images we publish to social media, the words we choose, and so much more.”
It also pledged to donate $1 million annually for the next three years to US charities focused on helping men become positive role models for the next generation, starting with the Boys & Girls Club of America.