WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — Iconic razor brand Gillette weighed in on the debate over masculinity Monday, releasing an advertisement that asks, "Is this the best a man can get?"
The beginning of the "We Believe" ad showcases men and boys engaged in bullying, fights and harassment. A line of men stand behind boys fighting in a yard, grills lit and smoking. They excuse the behavior, saying, in unison, "Boys will be boys" repeatedly.
"Boys will be boys? Isn't it time we stop excusing bad behavior?" asked the company in a tweet showcasing the ad.
As it continues, the ad shows men encouraging their friends and sons not to engage in the bad behavior previously featured. It's part of a pledge by the company to counter what the company sees as the negative stereotypes in a "new era of masculinity."
"The next generation is watching," notes the ad.
It went viral Tuesday, earning more than 6 million views on YouTube by Tuesday afternoon. As of the writing of this article, it received 134,000 thumbs up and 430,000 thumbs down. The internet was quick to weigh in with a plethora of opinions on social media.
"This ad is amazing and made me cry. Bravo @Gillette for taking a stand. This is the kind of world I want my son to grow up in," "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star Melissa Fumero tweeted. "To all the men offended by this... take a good hard look in the mirror pal and ask yourself why."
Many men and women shared her sentiments, but critics saw the ad as an attack on men.
"Gone is the celebration of men," wrote British TV journalist Piers Morgan in an op-ed for the Daily Mail, noting the company's shift in tone. "In its place is an ugly, vindictive two-minute homage to everything that’s bad about men and masculinity."
Others took a more cynical view, seeing the ad as nothing more than a marketing campaign by an established company that has recently been challenged by smaller, direct mail competitors.
WE are all so easy to manipulate. You think this Gillette thing is anything other than a marketing ploy? And here we are all talking about them, even me, despite the fact that I realize I'm being manipulated. That's why it's such an effective marketing tactic. It works either way— neontaster (@neontaster) January 15, 2019
"WE are all so easy to manipulate. You think this Gillette thing is anything other than a marketing ploy?" said Twitter user @neontaster. "And here we are all talking about them, even me, despite the fact that I realize I'm being manipulated. That's why it's such an effective marketing tactic. It works either way."
Some simply didn't see what all the fuss was about.
"I honestly don’t see the big deal with the Gillette ad," said Mikel Jollett, the front man for rock group Airbone Toxic Event, in a tweet. "I was expecting something controversial. But this ad basically says, 'Don’t be a jerk. Don’t raise a jerk. Call out other men being for jerks.' My dad, who was a mechanic w an 8th grade education, told me that in 1987."
I honestly don’t see the big deal with the Gillette ad. I was expecting something controversial.— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) January 15, 2019
But this ad basically says, “Don’t be a jerk. Don’t raise a jerk. Call out other men being for jerks.”
My dad, who was a mechanic w an 8th grade education, told me that in 1987.