It seems very few like the new Gillette ‘Me Too’ ad. Those on the far right have blasted it for ‘emasculating men’ and accused it of propagating a fashionable misandry. On the left, others have washed their hands with it because it alienates the very people its supposedly trying to talk to.
I’m left wondering what the communications objective must have been. One can easily envisage the awful ‘make us famous’ style brief clients are so fond of dishing out. In that, they certainly succeeded. Twitter is abuzz and YouTube is ablaze. But hardly with words of praise, and I’m not one to believe that in ‘all PR is good PR’.
I’m so struck by this because, last year, Lynx did something very similar. Yet the internet loved it. And so did I.
For years, Lynx had been peddling sexist ads of women running after men because of the iconic ‘lynx effect’. Then, last year, almost out of nowhere, Lynx released ‘find your magic’. This shifted the product benefit from ‘will pull women’ to ‘will instil you with confidence’. And the men depicted in the ad weren’t your typical hetero-normative, alpha-male buffs, but an eclectic mix of men and a wonderful representation of masculinity today. Without having to lambast themselves, Lynx nodded to the previous notions of ‘toxic masculinity’ they’d sanctioned, encouraged even, and put all their energies into reversing it.
Where Gillette went wrong, in my opinion, is that they’ve taken themselves too seriously. They seem confident that sexist men everywhere, who might not have been swayed by what they’ve seen in the news, in popular TV shows, what they’ve heard from their friends, their girl-friends and sisters have said, will be persuaded to change by an advert for a razor. It’s ridiculous.
By all means Gillette, work towards improving gender relations; invest in consent workshops, in anger management centres, in diversifying the image of an ‘attractive man’. But please, don’t just create an advert you think you will be popular. Your endline says it all. On ‘the best a man can be’ website, all I can see is shop products and shaving tips. Typical.