How should ads talk about masculinity?

As the dust settles after Gillette’s controversial ad campaign, CR asks how the creative industry should address the issue of toxic masculinity – and how it can avoid the inevitable preachiness that accompanies purpose-led campaigns

The ad industry is in the grip of creativity for good. Purpose remains the buzzword on everyone’s lips, and brands of all kinds want to prove, at least on the face of it, that they care about more than making money.

Over the last decade we’ve already seen a wave of adverts try and turn the tide for women, with major examples being Dove’s focus on body positivity and Always’ Like A Girl campaign. So it makes sense that, as audiences tire of so-called ‘femvertising’, brands would turn their attention to the next challenge.

But while conversations about modern masculinity and what it means are happening, it’s a fraught issue. Gillette dipped its toe in the water with its The Best Men Can Be advert, drawing ire from men around the world. The ad itself was certainly irritatingly earnest, but it was the sense that it pointed the finger at men that seems to have really got under the skin of viewers.