'The Best Men Can Be': Gillette's new advertisement has something to say about toxic masculinity

15th Jan 19 | Beauty

And it's causing a stir on social media.


In the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, our collective consciousness is arguably shifting. Gender stereotypes are being placed under a microscope, and we’re increasingly thinking about the impact toxic masculinity has on both men and women.

It seems very timely, then, that Gillette would reinvent its classic tagline: The Best A Man Can Get – which was launched 30 years ago.

The brand writes: “Turn on the news today and it’s easy to believe that men are not at their best. Many find themselves at a crossroads, caught between the past and a new era of masculinity.”

Gillette appears to believe brands have a responsibility to do better, and says: “From today on, we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette.” The result? This advert…

The ad challenges certain stereotypes of masculinity – like “boys will be boys” and men catcalling women on the street – and turns them on their head, showing how damaging and unacceptable they can be. The new tagline has been altered to: The Best Men Can Be.

Gillette is also pledging to donate $1 million (£780,000) per year for the next three years to US non-profit organisations “designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal ‘best’ and become role models for the next generation.”

The advert is a powerful one, and the fact Gillette is making an effort to tackle the structures of masculinity, has resonated with many.

However, not all of the reaction has been positive. For some, the advertisement rings a little hollow.

While the message itself might be designed to be powerful, some see it more as a way for a big conglomerate to cash in on a hot button topic.

The advert has stirred up quite a lot of controversy on social media, with some saying it’s sexist against men and claiming there’s no such thing as ‘toxic masculinity’.

At the time of writing, the YouTube video had been watched nearly 2.5 million times, garnering 25k ‘likes’ and 222k ‘dislikes’, along with calls to boycott the brand.

Ultimately, there are those who don’t really mind if it’s a shrewd marketing move or an effort to promote social justice – regardless of motive, it’s raising a timely message.

At the very least, there’s no doubt it’s got people talking and examining their attitudes towards masculinity – and surely that can only be a good thing.

© Press Association 2019