Exec Behind Controversial Gillette Ad Discusses Toxic Masculinity

Carolyn Tastad of Procter & Gamble on the "We Believe" ad

new gillette ad
Gillette products. (Getty Images)
By Evan Bleier / May 24, 2019 11:52 am

Released in January, a Gillette advertisement which showcased how men can alter the narrative surrounding masculinity in the #MeToo era caused men’s rights activists to call for a boycott of the brand.

Titled “We Believe,” the spot sparked conversation — exactly Gillette’s intent.

“We expected debate. Actually a discussion is necessary,” Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette’s North America brand director, said at the time. “If we don’t discuss and don’t talk about it, I don’t think real change will happen.”

Now, several months later, one of the executives who helped craft the controversial spot is speaking out about the responsibility brands have to confront toxic masculinity and let their customer know where they stand on the issue.

In an interview with Quartz, Procter & Gamble group president Carolyn Tastad said she was proud of the way the Gillette campaign addressed “the important conversation about modern masculinity.”

She also said consumers, especially younger ones, have shown they want brands to take stances on social issues.

“The reality is today, stakeholders of all kinds, whether it’s consumers, investors, or employees, they expect more from brands than just selling products,” Tastad said. “They want to know what they believe in. They want to know their values. They want to know the people behind them and the actions they’re taking on important issues. And that was the impetus for Gillette. They were saying, ‘We are a brand that for many years has shaped perceptions of masculinity and we’ve helped create what it means to be the best a man can get.’ And the shift that the brand team made is going from ‘the best a man can get’ to ‘the best a man can be.’”

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