By Isabel Jones
Updated: Jan 15, 2019 @ 4:35 pm
KARIM SAHIB/Getty Images

On Sunday, popular razor brand Gillette made a bold statement when it released a two-minute video urging men to be "the best men can be," tapping directly into cultural conversations about masculinity but not — detractors have been quick to point out — ever touching on actual shaving. Sparking outrage the minute it was posted online, Gillette’s “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” film has more that 4.5 million views and over 360,000 “thumbs down” votes on YouTube to date. So why has the seemingly uncontroversial, and generally sweet if not intentionally zeitgeisty, move incensed hundreds of thousands of people and led longtime customers to vow they’ll never buy a Gillette product again? Scroll down for a deep-dive into the surprising reactions to the mini-film.

How It All Began

On Monday morning, Gillette posted an under two-minute film titled “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” (playing off of its longtime tagline, "The best a man can get," to each of its social platforms.

The video begins by splicing together several all too familiar visuals: children being bullied, women harassed in the workplace, women harassed in media, fathers repeating “boys will be boys” as they watch their children fight … Everything looks pretty bleak until there’s a shift in this Gillette-made universe (presumably #MeToo has taken place, in the world of this commercial) and men begin holding other men accountable. A man on the street tells another man that objectifying a woman passing by is “not cool.” A father breaks up a fight in order to set an example for his son. In a call to be “the best men can be,” the video concludes with a narrated reminder that “the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.” As the screen fades to blue, a message appears: “It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get closer to our best.”

Why Did Gillette Post It?

In a letter on its website posted the same day, Gillette explains the inspiration behind the video. A modern update to its tagline “The Best a Man Can Get,” the company decided to challenge the very meaning of masculinity in 2019, creating a campaign in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America titled “The Best Men Can Be.”

“It’s time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture. 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 site reads.

Gillette is vowing to donate $1 million per year for the next three years to organizations which encourage men to “achieve their personal ‘best’ and become role models for the next generation.”

How Are People Reacting?

The reaction has been mixed but, as with any viral sensation, the haters seem to be the noisiest. Some of Gillette’s detractors fault the brand’s ad for being just that, an ad, and view the company’s attempt at social change as nothing more than a marketing ploy. Some are threatening to take their razor business elsewhere. 

Others (mostly men) feel condescended to and attacked by the video's message.

And though they are making far less noise than the angered masses, there are some viewers who actually found the video moving and timely.

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The Next Steps

While some are calling on Gillette to issue an apology, Procter & Gamble president Gary Coombe is standing by the brand’s statement, according to BBC.

"By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behavior, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal 'best,' we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come," Coombe stated. “For us, the decision to publicly assert our beliefs while celebrating men who are doing things right was an easy choice that makes a difference."