The Gillette Ad

Have you watched the Gillette ad that went viral yesterday and today? It seems to have sparked some interesting conversations, so I thought I’d share my thoughts here.

I’ll post the commercial below, but here’s a quick summary: The first half of the ad shows men doing bad things to each other and to women. Bullying, harassing, objectifying, patronizing. Most notably, this part of the ad shows other men (and women, but mostly men) saying things like “boys will be boys” and doing nothing about it.

The second half of the ad shows men stepping into those situations and making a difference, often in front of their sons and other boys who see them leading by example. It ends with the message, “Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”

While I don’t think the ad is perfect (more on that in a second), overall I really like it, and I like the messages it offers. To me, it’s saying that being a good person is more than just not bullying or harassing. It’s about stepping up and showing others that you don’t condone that behavior.

The last third of the video makes me think about my nephews. It’s one thing for me to tell them not to be bullies. But it’s even better, in my opinion, to show them that their uncle stands up for those who are being bullied.

So where does the ad fall short? Honestly, I think the various bullies could have used a little more gender diversity. Because the point of the ad isn’t, “All men are bullies and harassers,” yet the ad makes it a little too easy for that to be the unintended takeaway for some people. The actual focus of the ad is on the men on the sidelines who choose to let bad stuff happen (or choose to make a difference). But by casting all men as the bullies, the ad was setting itself up for criticism from people who would focus on that instead of the core message.

(Also, I should mention here that I think everyone–men and women–has done and said some stupid stuff at some point in their lives. Who among us can really say that on some level we haven’t bullied, objectified, or patronized?)

The other slight misstep, in my opinion, is that I could see someone saying that the ad makes it seem like it’s only a man’s job to stand up for what’s right and be a good example for their kids. I don’t think that’s the intention, but I can see how that might not resonate with women, who can do those things just as well–if not better–than men. Perhaps some women can share their thoughts about this in the comments.

Remarkably, despite having 184k likes, this ad has 515k dislikes! So it’s quite possible I’m in the minority of those who find value in this message. Given that, even if you disagree with my opinion, I’d ask you to be respectful and constructive in the comments. I’d love to learn something from you, not argue against you.