Three decades after Gillette launched its “The Best A Man Can Get” tagline, the company’s telling men they can do better — but critics are slamming their cutting approach.
A new commercial begins with a few men about to shave while listening to news reports of bullying, the MeToo movement and toxic masculinity before a voice asks “Is this the best a man can get?” Clips then flash of men engaging in bad behavior, from grabbing women’s bottoms, saying “boys will be boys” to dismiss kids fighting, and diminishing a female colleague.
The ad has sharply split viewers, with some vowing to never to buy Gillette’s shaving products again and others praising the brand for encouraging men to step up their game.
Right-leaning celebrities like Piers Morgan have taken particular offense to the commercial. The journalist and TV personality tweeted that Gillette declared a “vindictive man-hating war on its own loyal customers,” adding “God forbid a man should ever want to be strong” and asking why men should ever buy its products again.
At the other end of the spectrum, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star Melissa Fumero tweeted that the ad is “amazing and made me cry,” lauding Gillette “for taking a stand.” The actress, 36, added, “This is the kind of world I want my son to grow up in. To all the men offended by this… take a good hard look in the mirror pal and ask yourself why.”
The commercial depicts a boy being comforting by his mom as text bubbles on the screen flash messages like “You’re such a loser,” “Everyone hates you,” and “Sissy!”
News reports of sexual harassment are heard while a voice-over says its “been going on far too long.” A trio of teenage boys are seen watching TV as a male sitcom character grabs a female cleaning lady’s butt. “We can’t laugh it off,” the voice-over says.
The ad — just under two minutes — also has a scene in a board room meeting, where a man at the head of a table puts his hand on the shoulder of the only woman in the room and says, “What I actually think she’s trying to say…”
The voice-over also chides men for standing by while two elementary school-aged kids wrestle on the ground at a barbecue, showing a long line of men in front of grills mindlessly repeating “boys will be boys.”
A dozen TV screens flash reports of sexual harassment allegations as the voice-over says, “But something finally changed. And there will be no going back. Because we believe in the best in men.”
It’s followed by footage of men correcting other men. One man reprimands another man trying to snap photos of bikini-clad women at a party by telling them “smile, sweetie.” Another man gets in the way of his pal attempting to approach a woman on the street that he finds attractive. A dad chases after a pack of bullies roughing up a boy. And a man at the barbecue finally breaks up the small boys wresting.
As part of its new The Best Men Can Be campaign, Gillette will donate $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations in the U.S. with programs “designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal best and become role models for the next generation.” The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is the company’s first partner.