Gillette’s Non-Super Bowl Spot. The Best a Man Can Get or Fear of Emasculation?

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. And some men are from up Uranus.

One Super Bowl spot we won’t be seeing is Gillette’s controversial “Best a Man Can Get.” P&G says the cost of a two-minute ad buy is the reason why the spot won’t air, but it seems that a better explanation might be the unexpected reaction.

The ad was savaged on YouTube. My most recent check indicated that negative reactions outnumbered the positive nearly two to one. The comments are nasty. You don’t have to scroll down very far sense the vitriol.

“As men we need to start standing up to this man hating agenda and vote where it hurts them our wallet. 

“Toxic masculinity is not the problem. Lack of masculinity is.

 “Ooooohhhhh it’s a razor commercial. Phew. Call me crazy but for some reason I thought it was Gillette saying FU to its customers, but of course no sane compay (sic) would do that right?

“Who is the harasser here? It sure sounds like Gillette is harassing men.

As a professional marketer, my proper response to these remarks should be rooted in empathy and respect for the voice of the consumer. As a human being, a man who grew up in very different times but has, I hope, evolved to far more enlightened views, I find these remarks to be hateful and revolting.

It goes to show how polarized we are as a society. You don’t have to think too hard about who these people voted for in the last election. It makes you wonder. Don’t we, as a society, value truth over lies? Don’t we trust our own institutions more than the Russians? Aren’t we a democracy where everyone should be able to vote? Don’t we care about helping the less fortunate?

Don’t we care about respecting women, standing up to bullies and being kind to each other?

Apparently not. I keep looking at this ad trying to figure out what’s controversial. But where I see good intent, others feel threatened.

I am sorry that P&G pulled this ad from the big game. The fact is that all companies and all brands have to take stand in today’s society. People choose brands based on their social stances and the causes they back.

The brilliance of this ad is how Gillette consciously traces its evolution of how a “man’s best” should be defined. The formula, repeated ad nauseam for decades, was this. A handsome, manly man shaves with Gillette products, looking unnaturally cheery for so early in the morning and transported to a state of nirvana through the act of shaving. He finishes, looks in the mirror, rubs his hand over his smooth face and smiles a smug, “Aren’t I a good looking guy” smile. His hot, young, super-model wife comes into the bathroom, runs her hands over his freshly shaved face and melts into his arms.

The haters are likely getting aroused right about now, thinking about those good old days when men were men and women were objects. Remember how those pretty little things just couldn’t resist your confident, macho swagger? Actually, you don’t remember that because it never happened.

To the brand’s credit, Gillette acknowledges their past in the ad and then spells out how they want to move past it. I keep looking for something “controversial” here but can’t find a thing. What’s the issue? If I break up a fight, put a bully in his place or chasten  my friend for harassing a woman, does that threaten my masculinity?

I wish that we’d be seeing this ad on Sunday. Yes, this “just a razor company” should take a stand. Like Nike with Colin Kaepernick, they’re going to piss off a lot of people and lose some business in the short term. But they’ll be on the right side of history, and ultimately, by giving their users a “bigger” reason to use their product, they will build a stronger, more loyal customer base.

They’ll also get some business back. Like mine. I’ve been off in Dollar Shave Club land for a few years, using blades and a razor handle that are clearly inferior for the convenience and the savings. As I’ve written before, Gillette’s previous marketing efforts, touting heritage and made in Boston craftsmanship rang hollow. Urging men to stand for a kinder, more respectful world. That’s something I can relate to.

  • John Rindlaub
    Posted at 11:20h, 01 February Reply

    Jeff, well said and I am in complete agreement. The Best A Man can get is NOT bullying, womanizing, belittling, condescending degrading behavior. As men, we have a role to elevate masculinity, not regress it. They should have the courage to run this ad. Maybe you can call them and get them to change their minds.

  • Phil Censky
    Posted at 10:12h, 04 February Reply

    I find it interesting that the response proved the point Gillette was making. Why else would it drive so much negativity?

  • Misti Simms
    Posted at 13:39h, 13 February Reply

    This is honestly the most articulate, open response to both the ad and the haters that could possibly exist. Thank you! I was asking myself how seeing the men doing their ‘best’ could make anyone feel attacked… then it occurred to me that it was not that side they were relating to and feeling threatened by. I do wish P&G would go ahead and air it.

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