- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2019

Gillette parent company Procter & Gamble Co. wants men to contemplate their own “toxic masculinity” before using their products going forward.

A new ad titled “We Believe” features stock footage of newscasters addressing “bullying,” “toxic masculinity,” “sexual harassment” and the #MeToo movement while asking the audience, “Is this the best a man can get?”

Solemn men look into mirrors as the commercial cuts to various forms of sexism, misogyny and bullying.

“We can’t hide from it. It’s been going on for far too long. We can’t laugh it off,” a narrator says.

Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette brand director for North America, told The Wall Street Journal via email that “We Believe” is about “aiming to inspire change.”

“This is an important conversation happening, and as a company that encourages men to be their best, we feel compelled to both address it and take action of our own,” Mr. Bhalla wrote Monday. “We are taking a realistic look at what’s happening today, and aiming to inspire change by acknowledging that the old saying ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ is not an excuse. We want to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and hope all the men we serve will come along on that journey to find our ‘best’ together.”

Dean Crutchfield, CEO of branding firm Crutchfield + Partners, told the newspaper that Gillette could quickly alienate its long-time supporters.

“Does the customer want to be told they’re a naughty boy? Are you asking too much of your consumer to be having this conversation with them?” he asked.

“It’s about execution,” Mr. Crutchfield said. “Sometimes brands stretch themselves too fine, and they snap.”

Feedback on the company’s YouTube channel was overwhelmingly negative.

Some comments included:

  • “Get woke, go broke. Stick to selling razors.”
  • “When did shaving have to get political?”
  • “Do we really need ‘woke razors?’”
  • “How to irreparably damage a brand in under 120 seconds: A Documentary.”
  • “Cringe shaving commercial. See this is actually genius. What Gillette is doing here is trying to lower our testosterone to the point we won’t have to shave anymore.”

The company’s website also details plans to “donate $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations executing programs in the United States designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal ‘best’ and become role models for the next generation.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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