Gillette on controversial ad: 'We're not focusing on negative comments'

The razor brand is reaching out directly to people on social who are questioning the ad's message.

BOSTON: Following backlash, razor brand Gillette has no plans to change or pull its We Believe ad, which calls on men to change their behavior in light of the #MeToo movement.

The U.S.-specific social and digital campaign kicked off on Sunday, with assistance from Ketchum. Gillette posted a short film and 30-second version of the ad on YouTube on Sunday, and social media platforms such as Twitter on Monday. In the ad, the Procter & Gamble brand calls out "bullying," "sexual harassment," and "toxic masculinity," and questions, "Is this the best a man can get?" It then encourages men to hold one another accountable for their behavior.

The ad has received mixed reactions. Some people, such as journalist Piers Morgan, said they will boycott the brand because of the ad’s message. Those who oppose it complain it paints all men as bullies and sexual harassers. The short film has been viewed 4.8 million times and garnered 375,000 dislikes and 101,000 likes.

Julia LaFeldt, communications manager for Gillette North America, said the brand expected the campaign to start conversations. The comms team is focusing on the positive dialogue it has ignited rather than the negative, she added.

"In any instance of someone who might be questioning [the message], we are helping to clarify what the intent of this was and reaching out to them directly on social media," LaFeldt explained. "There is less of a focus of highlighting toxic masculinity and more about inspiring men to take more action and set the best example for the next generation."

Gillette’s purpose as a brand is to help groom the next generation of men. That is what the We Believe spot is trying to showcase, LaFeldt noted.

"We have no plans to change or pull anything," she said. "Hopefully it will inspire people to take a look at what we are sharing and take action on their side, as well."

This year marks the 30-year anniversary of Gillette’s The Best a Man Can Get tagline. To create the We Believe ad, LaFeldt said the brand wanted to take a look at the tagline and think about what the best really means. Gillette also wanted to portray that with what it is doing in its advertising.

"Given the conversation happening in public discourse recently, we also wanted to see how we can help portray the best in men, as well," she explained. "As a company, we believe in the best in men. That is why we are doing this work."

On Monday, Damon Jones, P&G’s VP of global communications and advocacy, asked people to weigh in on the ad in a LinkedIn post.

Since the #MeToo movement started in 2017, brands are less afraid to have a conversation about what it really means to be a man, experts told PRWeek in October. To name a few, men's clothing retailer Bonobos kicked off a campaign in July to #EvolveTheDefinition of the word "masculinity," while Schick Hydro launched The Man I Am, a campaign with basketball star Kevin Love talking about positive masculinity. In early 2018, men’s grooming brand Harry’s explored "what it really means to be a man" with its A Man Like You campaign.

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