“Get woke, go broke” is a popular saying, but it isn’t necessarily true. Some companies have seemingly prospered by adopting a Social Justice Warrior pose. Nike comes to mind. Still, it is hard to understand what Gillette was thinking when it launched its foray into left-wing politics: “The Best Men Can Be,” a new web site that features this video. Gillette wants us to know that it is anti-sexual harassment. The freighted phrase “toxic masculinity” makes an appearance:
What does sexual harassment have to do with shaving cream and ridiculously overpriced razor blades? I don’t know. At some level, of course, shaving relates to masculinity. But this is too tenuous a connection, I think, to justify Gillette’s campaign.
Procter & Gamble owns Gillette, so the toxic masculinity campaign presumably has been vetted by some of America’s most knowledgeable marketers. Nevertheless, I will go out on a limb and predict that they are wrong. For what it’s worth, the comments on the YouTube video are relentlessly negative and mocking.
But what nags at me is something else: a memory of Gillette as the sponsor of Friday Night Fights. For 14 years, ending in 1960, Gillette sponsored a very different view of masculinity: America’s premier boxing show. I saw a lot of those broadcasts. Pretty much all of the famous fighters of the era appeared on the Friday Night Fights, some many times: Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Archie Moore, Rocky Graziano, Willie Pep, and many more. I think all of the broadcasts originated from Madison Square Garden.
Who can forget the music that accompanied those telecasts, the Gillette Look Sharp March? For many years it was associated with American sports, especially boxing. My high school band played the Gillette Look Sharp March.
At a fundamental level, Procter & Gamble/Gillette’s marketing has changed because American men have changed. It goes without saying that in the 1950s, the current SJW campaign would have been seen as puzzling, at best. I am afraid the same may be true if Gillette tried to replicate its 1950s celebration of masculinity today. Sadly, it may be that P&G has its finger on the pulse of lots of American razor buyers.
I, of course, see the 1950s version of masculinity as mostly admirable, not “toxic”–whatever that means. Not that men were perfect then, of course. But it seems that the more liberals yammer about sexual harassment, rape, etc., the more harassment and rape they commit. On the whole, I would guess that men of the 50s were more honorable, on the average, than men today. For what it’s worth, the forcible rape rate per 100,000 is several times higher now than it was in 1960–the golden age, I take it, of “toxic masculinity.”
Meanwhile, I haven’t bought a razor or overpriced blades from Gillette in a long time. I recommend Harry’s. And the Dollar Shave Club is welcoming lots of new customers:
Welcome to the Club.
— Dollar Shave Club (@DollarShaveClub) January 14, 2019
Which is all well and good. But the trend toward large companies aligning themselves with the Left continues apace.
UPDATE: This is heartwarming. At the moment, the Gillette YouTube video has 10,000 likes and 99,000 dislikes.