Campus Responds to Gillette Ad
On January 13, 2019, Gillette released a commercial that sparked controversy across the nation. The commercial touched on topics of toxic masculinity, bullying, sexual assault, and the #metoo movement. However, the way the messages were conveyed doesn’t seem to resonate with everyone.
There was a poll launched campus-wide asking the students and staff what their opinions were on the ad. In the poll, we asked students and staff what they believed the intended message of the commercial was. Most of the people who completed the poll answered with the same response such as, “men have acted aggressively, being bullies and sexually harassing and sexually assaulting women, with their behavior being brushed aside because that’s just how boys/men act.” However, there was an opinion that differed from the rest and gave insight as to how those opposed think, saying that “the message comes across as ardent progressive, so I think the intended message is to show the failings of men, and where they can do better.”
The commercial has gotten a lot of negativity and backlash following the release of this commercial. Some coming from Fox News host Greg Gutfeld, saying “they say they’re sparking conversation, but that’s what they call it when they tie you to a chair and shout accusations at you, then ask you for money” and even going as far as saying that “I can guarantee you, no man likes that ad.” When asking the SU community why they feel the ad had gotten so much backlash, they replied “Because it feels like a callout to men and some men may feel it’s demeaning because they are starting to see that their behavior is no longer acceptable in this society.” Others said, “people viewed the commercial with preexisting bias or expecting a certain kind of message and looked for ways to confirm their own version of the story. I also believe some people were uncomfortable as the commercial challenged some of the widely accepted societal notions on men that they accept or support, and having those called into question prompted a negative reaction.”
There tends to be a sort of conflict when it comes to whether or not big companies such as Gillette or Nike should make stances like these. Some believe that “social issues that are not directly related to the production or sale of their products are not something a company needs to even have a stance on.” While others say that “they have an important status with men and it’s within their ability to advertise as so.” While the majority seem to praise the company for taking such a bold stand, saying that they’re “impressed that they’re willing to stand up for women and take the potential backlash.” There’s also the thought that it’s all just a marketing technique, saying that “this commercial was to gain attention and make more money, but that in itself doesn’t take away from the value of the message.”
In light of the situation, Gillette (in partnership is The Boys and Girls Club of America) has committed to making donations of 1 million every year for the next three years to nonprofit organizations that help develop men of all ages to become respectful, inclusive, and positive role models.Despite the controversy that the commercial started, Gillette has no intention of pulling the ad. Gillette wanted to start a conversation. “We expected debate,” says Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette’s North America brand director, “actually a discussion is necessary. If we don’t discuss and don’t talk about it, I don’t think real change will happen.”