Gillette’s ad — are they finally listening? Or are they just taking advantage of a conversation?

When I first watched Gillette’s recent ad — you know, the one slamming toxic masculinity — I found myself tearing up. As did many other women working every day to create equality in a world ruled by a hateful turnip.

Yess, I said to myself. They’re finally listening. They finally get it.

Because I’m often prone to empathizing and truly want to believe the good in everyone, for a moment, I thought they were serious.

I thought, you know, what a good message. And it’s not being told by a woman — after all, men addicted to toxic masculinity would never listen to a woman — it’s being told by a man.

(Well, a masculine brand. So, for argument’s sake, a man.)

After all, that’s the point they were working to make, wasn’t it? That men need to work as allies to make each other stronger — boost each other up?

But while I was thinking that, the marketer in me asked a question: but are they really the ones who should be making this discussion happen? Is it really up to Gillette to start this dialogue?

Look, I’m all for brands committing themselves to social justice. In fact, I believe every brand should incorporate some form of social responsibility in their business model (something I’m currently working on figuring out as we speak).

Yet, something about it just felt…off.

Let’s back up for a moment, removing the emotions and the biases and the hopes they really mean what they’re saying.

Gillette sells razors. And shaving accessories.

With Dollar Shave Club’s growth in popularity (hello, it’s stupid cheap and high quality — why wouldn’t they?) and #NoShaveNovember unfortunately (sorry, biased opinion) turning into #NoShaveForever, their profits aren’t doing so hot.

So…what’s an ad agency to do?

Oh, perhaps take advantage of a subject everyone’s talking about. And everyone will talk about.

Make it controversial.

Get people talking.

Get blog posts by freelance copywriters on Medium. (Oh hey).

The ad will go live. Then people will talk. Then the press will pick up the discussions. And it will go back and forth and back and forth until we all forget about it and the Superbowl ads take over.

Genius.

So, Gillette took a controversial topic — women being treated like, oh I don’t know, humans — and decided they wanted to be a part of the conversation.

And maybe, just maybe, their profit will increase while they’re at it.

I don’t blame them. And I’m not mad at them. In fact, as I said a moment ago, it’s smart.

If anything, I’ll give them props for giving the conversation some fuel. We’re not going to figure anything out by staying quiet about it.

And, as I said before, at least they’re a man speaking to other men. So if even just a few people are impacted, and if their sales go up, then it could be a win-win situation.

Only time will tell.

I’d love to hear your opinions. Is Gillette’s ad going too far? Is it helping the movement, or are they just taking advantage of us?