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Gillette launches ad calling for men to stand up against 'toxic masculinity'

The Proctor & Gamble-owned brand tackles the #MeToo movement in the ad aimed at men

Image source: Gillette YouTube video screenshot

Gillette has launched a new ad campaign that calls on men to stand up against "toxic masculinity" in its attempt to challenge male stereotypes and expectations.

The digital ad, "We Believe: The Best Men Can Be" is a twist on the Proctor & Gamble-owned brand's 30-year-old tagline, "The Best a Man Can Get," according to a news release.

"It's time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture," the release said. "And as a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man."

The ad's release follows the American Psychological Association's recent declaration that claims "traditional masculinity" is "harmful" to boys and men.

What does the ad say?

The ad opens up with news about bullying, the #MeToo movement, and "toxic masculinity" playing in the background as it cuts from one man to another while they look at themselves in a mirror.

Then the narrator disputes the saying, "boys will be boys."

"Is this the best a man can get? Is it? We can't hide from it. It has been going on far too long. We can't laugh it off, making the same old excuses," a narrator says in the background.

"Men need to hold other men accountable," the narrator continues. "To say the right thing, to act the right way. Some already are. But some is not enough because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow."

Has P & G used its products to take a stance on issues in the past?

In 2014, its feminine-care brand Always launched the #LikeAGirl campaign. It addressed the fear of failure and pressure to be perfect that it claimed many young girls face.

"There's a demand for this, for purpose, for brands to be tackling tough issues in the moment," Dean Crutchfield, CEO of branding firm Crutchfield + Partners told The Wall Street Journal.

It "creates a credible, believable, and upfront conversation that takes brutal honesty and tough decisions," he said.

"This is an important conversation happening, and as a company that encourages men to be their best, we feel compelled to both address it and take action of our own," Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette brand director for North America, told the Wall Street Journal in an emailed statement. "We are taking a realistic look at what's happening today, and aiming to inspire change by acknowledging that the old saying 'Boys Will Be Boys' is not an excuse. We want to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and hope all the men we serve will come along on that journey to find our 'best' together."

But it's also risky business because it can offend customers who disagree with the brand's stance on the issue.

What else?

Gillette has also pledged $1 million annually for the next three years to nonprofit organizations in the U.S. starting with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

"From today on, we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette," the statement reads.

Watch the ad:

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