You might have heard a thing or two about Grey New York’s “We Believe” campaign for Gillette. Over the last two weeks, the ad sparked a conversation about toxic masculinity, sexual harassment and bullying while reimagining the brand’s long-running “The Best A Man Can Get” tagline.
Oh no, you say. We’ve already heard quite a bit about this campaign including debates and surveys over whether it will hurt or help P&G in the long run. It even inspired some people to send hate mail to Grey staff members and alleged death threats to the woman who directed the spot, because it’s 2019 and everything is awful.
The outrage news cycle has already moved on to its next target or targets, but we’ve yet to publish creatives’ takes on the ad itself, so here are the ones we received after a callout.
First, Sid Lee executive creative director Driscoll Reid argued that the ad tackles the subject of toxic masculinity with a “fresh approach.” “It shows all of us, as men, how we’ve hurt and been hurtful in the past and how we can stop it now and for the future,” he said.
Badger & Winters founder, CCO Madonna Badger added that while the ad was aimed at men, it was really “for everyone,” while Zambezi partner, CCO Gavin Lester said it was “solidly written and delivers a clear message.”
Lester said that the ad used “very conventional and stereotypical ways to describe boys’ and men’s behavior, as well as music that’s intended to pull on the heartstring,” adding that while the approach “drew criticism from some,” it “undeniably conveyed the brand’s desired message.”
There was a consensus among the three creative leaders that the ad was a conceptual success and that the brand’s previous marketing gave it permission to deliver this kind of message.
Badger called it “a strategic bullseye” which “hit a mark of great social importance,” while Lester cited the ad’s strategic aspect as its “greatest strength.”
“It seems they’re being self-critical in a (good) way, and recognizing that their brand’s point of view on the world must change as the notion of masculinity changes, too,” he added.
Reid said Gillette’s tagline “takes on new meaning with this film” which changes “the narrative of the company in one spot and instantly makes them relevant and part of the discussion and hopefully part of the solution.”
The ad struck an emotional chord with these creative leaders.
“As the father of a young son, the ad definitely connected with me emotionally, especially the ending about what kind of man do I want him to grow up into,” Reid said, adding you don’t have to be a father, or a man, to appreciate the ad or the stand Gillette is taking on the issue.
“I cried. This ad moved me,” Badger said, calling the subject matter “so all encompassing,” addressing the perils of conforming to toxic masculinity while addressing the strength require to intervene and make change.
“I saw the ad through the boys eyes, watching, wondering. Their fear and their hope was real to me,” she added.
Lester thinks it was hard for some men to view the ad objectively.
“Many are reacting defensively to it and saying …that this spot doesn’t portray real men today,” he said. “Whatever the reality may be, however, this work is making men pause and think about their behavior – and that can only be a good thing.”
He added that it’s “interesting that this may be the first time that men are feeling misrepresented in an advertisement. This makes me empathize with women even more, given they have been dealing with that same issue for decades!”
“As a community, we are lucky to have such a committed powerhouse like Procter and Gamble who genuinely wants change and gender equality,” Badger said. “Their bravery and courage as a brand and marketing team, as a corporation, is extraordinary.”
All eyes will certainly be on the brand going forward.
“This works also begs the question, what will the brand do next to fulfill this message? Will they really walk the walk and create positive change?” Lester asked. “And will other P&G brands follow suit?”
Here is another P&G brand addressing men in a very different way.
Of course we know not all creatives liked the ad. But those who did were quick to defend it.