Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor
Gillette recently released a new marketing campaign using hot-button topics about “toxic masculinity” and the #MeToo movement. The campaign has sparked debates around the country regarding the message, its content and whether its criticisms of society are valid. While one can not be certain of whether this is purely a marketing push or a company standing up for a cause they believe in, their involvement in these societal movements have done nothing to help gather public support.
First of all, I would like to say that I completely agree with the message the advertisement is intending to convey. I think it’s extremely important for men, myself included, to reflect on ourselves and the society at large and decide what kind of world we want our children to live in.
I feel that myself and other men need to set examples for the next generation by standing in solidarity with women who say they experience sexual harassment or feel they are not being treated equally. When men are not allies to women, it results in male sexual harassers facing no criminal indictments simply because society chooses to believe the word of a man over that of a woman.
With as many women as there are willing to come forward and talk about their own experiences with sexual harassment (and a number of women who don’t feel comfortable speaking to others about it), this is a problem that has occurred for too long and can be attributed to how men act and have been acting for years. I firmly believe that all men should take responsibility for this culture we have either created or allowed to be created. Women should not ever feel as though their voices are worth less than a man’s.
If you’re a man, you may be saying “Well I don’t sexually harass women so why am I being preached to?” Well, that’s great and you should continue behaving in such a way. However, I don’t think that is enough to solve the injustices to women in society.
For the problem to come to an end, men must not only be a decent man themselves, but be an ally to women in all situations when they are being harassed or discriminated against because there are plenty of men out there who are not as respectful of women like you and me.
Obviously, if a guy who sexually harasses women watches the commercial, they are not going to magically begin respecting women. The message is meant for men who know what the right thing to do is and telling them to try and impact others.
However, despite how convincing the message may have seemed, this is a commercial. Gillette is becoming involved in a serious societal issue and by doing this, they have caused more harm to this issue than good.
With Gillette being a corporation and trying to push this message, it has given those who are already against the #MeToo movement no reason to support the movement. Many people do not see corporations such as Gillette as a moral epicenter nor as an organization persistently attempting to right societal wrongs.
What could have been a thoughtful message is tarnished by the fact that the source of the message is not an entity purely wishing to make a change. After all, why would anyone find a commercial for a razor inspiring or thought-provoking?
In an age where companies use a variety of marketing techniques to build personal relationships with consumers in order to boost sales, many see this is Gillette’s attempt to do just that.
Another marketing campaign becoming more prevalent in the era of social media and global technology is the attempt to “go viral.” When something goes viral, it is seen by millions of people. Some businesses aim to make viral content in order for their brand to be retweeted, shared, etc by social media users who are inadvertently giving the brand free advertising. There are a number of different techniques a business can do in attempt to go viral. Some company’s Twitter accounts joke around and poke fun at the people who tweet at them while some will partake in whatever meme is currently on everyone’s feeds.
One other technique, which I feel has the potential to be highly insensitive, is using a hot-button topic to paint their company as organization that feels one way about an issue. While this is not illegal or even frowned upon in most cases, I find these marketing pushes to be highly manipulative. While some companies may truly want to help a cause, a business’ goal is to make money. Whether the business is just trying to start controversy and get their brand circulated or is using the topic to boost sales, I find both to be immoral.
With all this in mind, I believe Gillette’s intent was to either: Gain consumer support for taking a “bold” stance that they may or may not believe in or get the public to talk about their brand by creating a huge controversy, causing people to write an essay about their disposable razor commercial.
My money is on the second option.