The Brief: There is much buzz and debate about a Gillette ad that critiques toxic masculinity.


A new Gillette ad addresses toxic masculinity, particularly as it pertains to bullying, harassment, and the Me Too movement. The video challenges the axiom “boys will be boys,” and asks boys and men to instead strive to be “the best men can get.” As of the time of writing, the video has 165,000 likes and 492,000 dislikes on YouTube. It has sparked much backlash, both from those who believe that it is an attack on masculinity itself and from people who don’t like to see social justice movements co-opted for corporate gain.

As a part of this “The Best Men Can Be” campaign, Gillette has pledged to donate $1 million per year for the next three years to nonprofits in the U.S. that execute programs to “inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal ‘best’ and become role models for the next generation.”

This controversy is reminiscent of the Colin Kaepernick Nike ad of last year, which was widely praised but also sparked negative responses from people across the political spectrum for varying reasons. Like the Nike ad, this backlash has taken place largely online and has inspired memes.

Positive Reactions

This ad has a positive message about tackling real and pervasive issues in society. For this reason, it has received a significant amount of positive feedback, including from Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement:

Backlash From Men’s Rights Activists & Anti-Feminists

Some people saw this video as an attack on not just toxic masculinity, but on masculinity and men in general. Many anti-feminists and so-called men’s rights activists have responded negatively to this ad, announcing plans to boycott the brand and to sell their stock in Gillette’s parent company, Procter & Gamble.

Backlash To The Backlash

People have responded to this men’s rights backlash by pointing out the absurdity of being offended by something that promotes positive, healthy masculinity.

Critique From The Left

Many people who agree with the values promoted in the ad also see the danger in embracing a corporate-led movement that’s more about marketing and branding than it is about ending toxic masculinity. Although the ad – technically a “short film – only mentions Gillette at the very end, to many, it is still ultimately about selling razors. This backlash and suspicion is a response to seeing a company promote certain values without necessarily working towards those values outside of their PR campaign.

Gillette Ad Memes & Jokes

Of course, all this debate has inspired numerous memes, both serious political ones, and more playful ones.

When Gillette make an add so bad it’s a gold mine for meme potential but everyone is making egg memes from r/dankmemes

Men are so toxic from r/dankmemes

Thank you Gillette, very cool from r/dankmemes

Lets boycott Gillette from r/dankmemes

Gillette did an oppsie from r/dankmemes