Gillette has a new ad out condemning ‘toxic masculinity’ — and it’s sparking a backlash

BOSTON - JANUARY 28: Gillette Headquarters is seen January 28, 2005 in Boston, Massachusetts. Procter & Gamble announced on January 28 that it is acquiring Gillette Co. for $57 billion in stock in a deal that will create the world's biggest consumer-products enterprise. (Photo by Jodi Hilton/Getty Images) Library Tag 02012005 National/Foreign
Jodi Hilton/Getty Images/file
Gillette headquarters in Boston.

Razor-maker Gillette has put out a powerful new ad urging men to be an example for compassion and respect in the age of #MeToo — and it’s sparking a backlash.

The ad from the company, which is owned by Procter & Gamble and headquartered in Boston, uses its decades-old tagline, “The Best a Man Can Get,” to question “toxic masculinity” and urge today’s generation of men to demonstrate values of respect, accountability, and role-modeling, according to a press release.

“Is this the best a man can get, is it?” a narrator asks as images depicting sexual harassment and bullying are shown.


“We can’t hide from it, it’s been going on far too long. We can’t laugh it off,” the narrator continues, with one scene highlighting a familiar refrain that has been used to explain away hurtful behavior: “Boys will be boys.”

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The ad urges men to call out other men when they witness bad behavior, and closes with some examples of accountability and role-modeling: A man stops his friend from making objectifying comments toward women, a father intervenes when two boys get into a fight, and a man mediates an argument between two other men, resulting in the two shaking hands.

In the press release announcing the new campaign, a P&G executive said the ad was aimed at influencing the next generation.

“Gillette believes in the best in men,” said Gary Coombe, president of P&G Global Grooming. “By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behavior, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal ‘best,’ we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come.”

But the campaign is sparking a backlash on Twitter and elsewhere from those who said it paints all men with the same broad brush.


Many used the hashtag #boycottgillette and said they would purchase shaving products from the company’s competitors. Though it had racked up more than 3 million views on YouTube since its publication Sunday, the ad had more than 250,000 “dislikes” by YouTube users.

Christina Prignano can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.