Gillette: The Lowest A Brand Can Get.

Commentary by Eric Renderking Fisk | January 20th, 2019

Most of you need to know that you're good men.

All of you know It's a good thing to stand up against sexism and bullying, Everyone of my readers or podcast listener already know that we men should all be better examples to our kids, be the husbands and fathers to our wives and daughters deserve because our sons are looking up to us for examples.

A lot of what I saw in Gillette's ad "The Best that Men Can Be" that was released this month is what we've been saying for ages now. We men need to continue to be better men. If this commercial was from almost any other company, I would applaud it.

Since it's from Gillette, and in light of all their other marketing schemes from the past 30 years, I see a condescending and patronizing commercial that tried to cash-in on the current social movement in an effort to return to market dominance with their crappy products. You need to know that you’re a good man and you’re appreciated, but you sure as hell don’t need a multi-million dollar cooperation telling you that while trying to shame you into buying their products again via a patronizing public service announcement.

I am cynical when it comes to corporations who release an add that puts aside promoting the product, they sell to promote an ideal or virtue signal. When I see an ad that’s purposefully provocative and is made specifically to alienate people to create controversy, I see cooperation that’s desperate.

Gillette is a desperate corperation.

“The Best That Men Can Be,” which is a play on their now thirty-something-year-old campaign called “The Best A Man Can Get” which premiered on January 22nd, 1989. In the original ad, you see that being a man is all about striving to be the best, to look your best, all the while ruthlessly pursuing to become what was regarded as The All American Man. Gillette was a brand that sold itself on providing products for masculine men who were motivated towards perfection and winning.

The original ad from 30 years ago isn’t so much toxic masculinity as it was pro-consumerism. Which is exactly what an advertisement for a multi-million cooperation should be. “GILLETTE – THE BEST A MAN CAN GET” celebrated the late 1980’s and early 1990’s stereotypical definitions masculinity. It’s oversimplified and overtly celebrates what it meant to be “a man” and the kind of man who would buy those razors, but it’s a commercial for crying out loud – it’s supposed to be oversimplified and overtly celebratory.

Their current ad that is causing such a fuss, “We Believe: The Best That Men Can Be” commercial seems to be apologizing and trying to undo the “damage” done in their previously oversimplified and overtly celebratory ads that glorified men and all of our winningness. [Really, ‘winningness’ is an actual word according to Merriam-Webster.]

This new ad for 2019 is an ad that says that the company is embracing the hashtag “Me Too” movement and tackles issues such as adolescent bullying, sexual harassment, sexism, and toxic masculinity. The ad claims that from here on out the company is going to do more to inspire other men to be better to each other and the world around them, they’re taking a stand to end the negative aspects of being a man and all the horrible things men to each other and the people around them. This ad tells men to step in and call out the bad behavior from others, literally step up and make other men accountable.

In other words, all you great guys out there who act like gentlemen keep up the awesome work. And you guys still acting like Neanderthals, it’s time to evolve and stop being sexist pigs. We need to be the men our wives and daughters deserve because our sons are looking to us to be better examples.

To this commentator, this 2019 comercial is also trying to comprise the messages of all their ads since 1989: It’s time that men of today to counter all the negative messages the media is sending to our youth about what it means to be a man. Specifically, the negative messages Gillette and its parent company, Procter and Gamble, have been propagating. You need to be a powerful, assertive guy who goes out and gets it by bulldozing personal and social obstacles while being well groomed, in shape and handsome by buying our products. If you do all the right things, look the right way by using our products, and have the right outlook you too can have an incredible life and a hot wife like our paid actors in our commercials. Buy what we sell, and you too can be awesome and enjoy the most winningness life!

That’s not “toxic masculinity,” that’s toxic consumerism. There’s nothing in any of their ads in the past 30 years that I know of that is overtly racist, sexist, nor has ever promoted bullying. All their ads ever said was “Be the best man you could ever be by buying our products” period.

Rather than go after toxic consumerism, they went for the low-hanging fruit of toxic masculinity. This current ad seems to be trying to apologize something they never did or said with their original ads.

It's Toxic Consumerism, Stupid.

Going after toxic consumerism shouldn’t be the point of any ad by Gillette or it’s parent company Procter and Gamble, the point should always be promoting the product. They are in the business to make money by making products that are bought by the consumer and to tell you to buy less would obviously cut into profits. And that’s what this ad is about, it’s about making profits and trying to coheres or guilt you into buying Gillette products again. I used the word “Again” for a reason because their market share or market domination has been diminished. Nobody I know buys Gillette products anymore because their razors don’t do the same job as cheaper razors do.

This new “Minute and a half movie” calls out the remaining minority of men who still think it’s acceptable if not necessary to act inappropriately which is obviously a good message that the minority of men need to hear. Simultaneously the ad treads into some dangerous murky water since it could (and has been) interpreted as saying that most men behave horrible and thus runs the risk alienating potential customers and for that reason alone the ad fails. This 2019 Gillette commercial has with a message that I think a minority of men need to hear and receive, but they should not have heard it from this company.

You’re going to lecture me on morality while you’re selling a more expensive and inferior product? You’re going to try to hitch your wagon on a social movement because of failing sales? Really, I can’t figure out why I’m so damn cynical.

Does this ad make some of us think about some of our behaviors and might want to change them? Of course. But the timing for this advertisement couldn’t be any worse for this company when upstarts like “Harry’s” and “Dollar Shave Club” are eating their lunch in front of them.

This ad reeks of desperation, cynicism and an effort to exploit a current social problem and a solution for economic gain. Gillette did not create this ad because they want to make the world a better place or get men to be better people. This ad wanted to exploit a movement and send the message if you’re a great guy who does all the right things to a better society than you need to buy this razor. If you’re a woman and your man is one of those guys who stands up against sexism, racism, and bullying then this is the razor you want to buy for your man. When you are at the grocery store, you want to be seen buying this brand of razors to communicate that you’re this kind of progressive person.

Their product hasn’t improved, but boy… did they create some terrific “media buzz” and contributed a lot to the conversation our society has been having with itself on the problem commercialism helped to create.

The Fedora Chronicles Believes In You.

The Fedora Chronicles believes in the basic message of this commercial was trying to send; that some men – not most nor all – need to do better to curve toxic masculinity. Not real masculinity, but toxic masculinity. And maybe I need to hammer out a rant in the near future that explains the difference.

The Fedora Chronicles knows that the vast majority of the men who belong to our groups that include Dieselpunks, The Metaphysical Connection, The Indiana Jones Cosplay Group, are good and deserve to be celebrated. 99.9% of us are already “The Best A Man Can Get” by continuing to encourage each other by the great things we do for our society, perpetuating values such as honesty and bravery. The men in our groups are the first people I know of who stand up against bigotry and bullying on social media and in the real world. When someone needs help, my friends and family in our reader/listenership have always been the first to offer help and offer encouragement.

You need to know that you’re a good man and you’re appreciated, but you sure as hell don’t need a multi-million dollar cooperation telling you that while trying to shame you into buying their products again via a patronizing public service announcement. Congratulations to Gillette on creating an ad that hijacked and co-opted the “#MeToo” movement and tried to shame buyers into returning to your brand. Thanks for restoring my belief that operations will always strive in new and exciting ways to maximize profits by perpetuating a social injustice and corrupting the efforts to correct it.

I’ll be sticking with my still cheaper and superior razor.