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Like Gillette’s Cutting-edge Ad? #MeToo!

February 3, 2019

The recent ad for Gillette, more aptly called a short film, will not be featured as a Super Bowl commercial. It should be.

The ad’s online presence has stirred up an important conversation about what being a good man, a decent father and a male role model means to our children, particularly our boys who will someday grow up to be men who are worthy of our respect and admiration. Men who are worth loving and trusting. Men who are reasonable, smart and strong and willing to stand up for what is fair and honest. Men who are dependable and who follow through on their word and get good things to happen. Men we can believe in because they will go the distance and do the right thing.

What better time than the run-up to the Super Bowl for Gillette to double down on what it means for men to be and do their best, in this case making touchdowns when it comes to the virtue of our boys?

Procter & Gamble, Gillette’s parent company, is reframing its brand while sharpening a cutting-edge message of masculinity in the 21st century. It’s hard to tell if the campaign to sell razors, which is taking a strong stance on what it means to be a real man in the era of #MeToo, has lathered up the kind of online buzz that may eventually pay off down the road. It’s controversial. Some have bristled at its righteous feel, while others see, in what is a positive message for men and sons, a marketing emotional fake to increase sales.

Nike dug its heels in and made a similar stand when San Francisco 49ers’ then-quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee against racial inequality during the national anthem two years ago, and it has paid off.

The point is not whether Gillette -- or any company, for that matter -- should take a stance on hot-button issues to be relevant in today’s particular markets -- they have every right to do so. And whether we are aware of it or not, companies have been pushing our hot buttons to sell us things for generations, and now those things often include philosophical ideals that play out in controversial social issues.

Although I cannot, for the life of me, see where the controversy is in standing up to bad behavior.

So the question for Gillette and others is: Will customers get behind their products and their politics?

When you come right down to it, everything is politics, and in this era where truth seems paramount, more companies are beginning to see that their customers care deeply about these issues. They are expecting companies to show their true colors to their customers.

If companies seek to build relationships with their customers, why wouldn’t they try to better understand who their customers are?

I have faith that most men, young and old, know the golden rule, as my dad used to call it. Being a good and decent man is nothing new. And yet it seems that way with each new generation, and especially because I have sons and grandsons. My father taught us always to respect others, to be honest, to treat others the way you want to be treated. It wasn’t always easy. Sometimes pride or thick-headedness would get in the way, but the lesson stuck.

When it comes to respect, education and decency, let’s show our kids we’re all on the same team. Good men understand that men at their best don’t ogle women on the street, harass them in the workplace or belittle them at home and in our communities. And if men see it happening, they should, without question, step in and become the example.

There is no question that men are the role models for future generations of boys. Boys are watching. Emulating the men who mean the most in their lives is as natural as blinking an eye. And before you know it, your son is coming of age and showing those lessons in the words he uses and the things he does.

Companies like Gillette and Nike that stand up for the greater good in all of us should get a big thumbs-up. Everyone should look long and hard at their own role in raising our future generations. We all play a position, and the plays we make matter.

I’m glad that men are taking a long look in the mirror -- after all, it’s what we want our sons to do. We must see who we are and who we’d like to be if we want to show our children how to achieve their best. Just do it, be the best men you can be.

Gillette is throwing a long pass for which millennials and Generation Z’ers are wide open. The game is on.

Now, go Pats! And go Gillette!

Bonnie J. Toomey teaches at Plymouth State University, writes about writing, learning and life in the 21st century. You can follow Parent Forward on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bonnie jtoomey. Visit www.parent forward.blogspot .com or visit bonniejtoomey.com .

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