Gillette addresses modern masculinity in new ad, and causes controversy

After championing female empowerment for years, the ad industry has turned its attention towards masculinity, via a new spot from Gillette. It’s proving divisive but does it justify being described as the “worst marketing move ever”?

It’s 30 years since Gillette first introduced its famous tagline ‘The Best A Man Can Get’ in an ad break in the 1989 US Super Bowl, but in many ways it feels longer ago than that. The line – which, for me at least, will always be in sung form – speaks of an entirely different era in so many ways, when masculinity meant never, ever showing your feelings, and never having any facial hair.

In a new ad (described on YouTube by the brand as a ‘short film’ and running to almost two minutes), Gillette questions this historical image of masculinity, and what it’s led to today. As in the famous Like A Girl ad from Always (also a P&G brand), the spot explores some of society’s norms – such as the phrase ‘boys will be boys’ to excuse bad behaviour in men and boys – and questions whether we should be so flippant today.

It delves into more controversial ground too, asking men to think about how they feel about the #MeToo movement, and how they should be responding to sexism in society, as well as how they should be helping their children cope with online bullying and access to porn. In less than two minutes, that’s a lot of ground.