Gillette Toxic Masculinity Commercial: Well-Intentioned Inspiration for Change or Offensive Advertising Hoax?


Khushi Salgia, Arts and Entertainment Section Editor

In January 2019, Gillette released a commercial targeting the controversial issue of toxic masculinity. The commercial depicts scenes such as two fathers breaking up a fight between their sons, men standing up for other men who are getting bullied, and men telling other men to stop harassing women.

You would think a video with a positive message like this would garner significant popularity, but it actually received a strong backlash, getting approximately twice as many dislikes as likes. While many believe this video provides a positive message for setting a good example for the future generation of men, many more believe it sends the message that masculinity is bad, that all men are the same, and that this is just a marketing technique to appeal to the younger, more progressive generation.

Does Gillette’s commercial send an uplifting message or an offensive one?

“I don’t usually boycott, but I will not be buying Gillette products any longer,” is just one of the many anti-Gillette comments on the official video on YouTube. Another one reads, “Gillette, we’re all waiting for your toxic femininity video.”

Many men on YouTube―and a few women―express their dislike for the commercial on social media, claiming that it inaccurately portrays men, makes false generalizations about an entire population of people, and Gillette is using it as a marketing technique to appeal to the younger, more progressive generation. These online users believe that Gillette should stay in their lane and just stick to selling razors.

However, in a time like this when people get offended so easily, people shouldn’t be so quick to believe everything on the internet.

“I think it’s… awesome they made a commercial about toxic masculinity―[it says] you can be a man and not be rude,” said Nathan Yacur, president of Vista’s Gay Straight Alliance Club. Clearly, not everyone is offended by this commercial and believe it is a positive, uplifting message for anyone who looks at it objectively. “People see the negative and take it personally rather than taking time to reflect and say, ‘This is the problem,’” said Yacur. There are “no inaccurate assumptions [as it] doesn’t apply to everyone, but they do apply to a lot of people [and] the ad was targeted to those people.”

Despite all the hate, there are also many people on the internet who have the same point of view as Yacur. Model and author Chrissy Teigen tweeted about how much she loves Gillette after making the commercial. Similarly, screenwriter Bess Kalb tweeted, “If you’re mad at your razor for saying boys should be kind, that ad was exactly for you.”

Gillette’s intention was to send the message that men should hold other men accountable, stand up against violence, and set an example for the future generation of men. “I can see why this is controversial, I can see both sides. It does empower men to bring each other up,” said Abby Allen, another member of the Gay Straight Alliance. “Masculinity is supposed to be where men’s strength comes from bringing each other up.”

Gillette intentions were, to send a positive message for the current and future generation of men. As stated on their website, “Gillette is committing 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.