MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As we get closer to the Superbowl, companies are ramping up their advertising efforts. The new ad from razor manufacturer Gillette, released Monday on social media, is already drawing controversy. The nearly two-minute long video targets issues in the wake of the #MeToo movement, like bullying, sexual masculinity and toxic masculinity, but never once shows an actual razor.
Gillette is known for its slogan, "The best a man can get,” but the new ad poses a question: “Is this the best a man can get?” In the beginning, the clip shows a montage of men engaging in bullying, harassment and sexist behavior. It then flips the script and shows men stopping friends, confronting people and addressing bullies.
The ad has drawn attention from both sides. Some are threatening to boycott the company, while others are praising the clip. Graduate program manager and adjunct professor at Coastal Carolina University, Heather Read, says she thinks this ad targets women.
“Gillette actually invented the razor for women in 1915, and we know women buy over a billion dollars in razors alone, in addition to all the grooming and beauty products they buy, so as they’re facing a decline in market share. I think what they’re trying to do is to change the values that they represent as a brand to target the woman buyer,” said Read.
In a statement released to NBC News, the company said:
“If we get people to pause, reflect and to challenge themselves and others to ensure that their actions reflect who they really are, then this campaign will be a success."
Gillette says they wanted the video to spark debate and inspire change.
It seems to be a growing trend. Experts at Coastal Carolina University say several brands are now turning to social activism as a new marketing tactic.
“It used to be about the selling era, where we tell people what to buy. Now, we really talk about the value era, where it’s building one-to-one relationships with people. So as the social dialogue changes about what we expect from others,brands have to stay relevant,” said Ina Seethaler, gender studies professor at CCU.
Read said this is not the first ad we’ve seen that tries to take social responsibility to the forefront of the value set.
“We’ve seen examples with Nike, with Heineken, with Dove and the real beauty campaign. I think the difference here and maybe what’s causing the visceral reaction is that most of the other campaigns we had are about esteeming people and helping people stand up to be stronger,” said Read.
"I think ads are a great mirror that show us cultural shifts that we are going through, how our values are changing,” said Seethaler.