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  • Melanie Brown

CES 2019 Quick Take: Gillette Believes

You've doubtless seen the aftermath of Gillette's new "We Believe" campaign online. I was in the room at CES when P&G debuted this ad, to thunderous applause and cheers, that invokes #MeToo and calls on men to fight what has become known as “Toxic Masculinity” through words and actions.

The ad features narration over scenes of men and boys existing in the culture of casual sexism, bullying, and anger. And then flips the same scenes to show men in everyday life doing the right thing: stopping a friend from making an inappropriate sexual pass on the street, breaking up a fight at a party, not laughing at a sexist joke during a movie, etc.

The message is to men and boys that toxic masculinity is all around us, and in order to fight a system of oppression and minimization that affects male, female, trans, and nonbinary people alike, action must be taken on the part of the individual.

This comes fairly recently after P&G’s feminine care brand, Always, and its 2015 ad titled “Like a Girl” that flipped the age-old insult “You [Insert Activity Here] like a girl!” on its head. "Like a Girl" was met with praise from the industry and consumers alike for being inspiring, mission-focused, and positive.

Given the Trumpian time in which we're currently living, the Gillette ad has, of course, kicked up quite a commotion among certain men (Hey, look! It's notorious misogynist Piers Morgan!) who take issue with the ad for being "man-hating" and an attack on "traditional masculinity." You can't see me right now, but I'm rolling my eyes so hard that I can hear my mother way back in 1997 saying that my face will stick that way.

In the wake of #MeToo and as a result of the most recent wave of feminism, there has been a noted shift in the way certain products are marketed to women. There is much more advertising out there geared towards making women feel strong and representing women in the same ways that men are often represented.

Along the same vein, there must be a shift in marketing to men that calls upon the same message of equality of the sexes. But marketing already tells men that they’re strong. It already tells men that they’re the winners. The solution, then, is to market to men that they can help others to be winners too. That they can do the right thing by not standing idle while others are being put down. That hey can teach the generation behind them, and the generation behind those men, and behind those men, and on and on, to do the same.

This ad is not about winning. It’s about dismantling the societal structures that have traditionally put men on top and women on the bottom, and building back up a structure that holds everyone on the same level from the jump.


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