Gillette kicked off 2019 by declaring war on one of the Left’s favorite villains — masculinity, particularly “toxic masculinity” — and, predictably, sparked a massive backlash for alienating a large percentage of its target audience. Seven months later, Gillette’s parent company Procter & Gamble was forced to take an $8 billion writedown for the increasingly “toxic” brand.
While Procter & Gamble Co is doing quite well overall, enjoying strong sales and expectations-beating profit, one notable exception to its upward-trending performance is its embattled razor brand.
“Procter & Gamble Co’s (PG.N) quarterly revenue and adjusted profit beat Wall Street expectations on Tuesday, sending shares to a record-high even as the world’s No.1 personal goods company took an $8 billion charge on its Gillette shaving business,” Reuters reported Tuesday. Procter & Gamble “reported a net loss of about $5.24 billion, or $2.12 per share, for the quarter ended June 30, due to an $8 billion non-cash writedown of Gillette,” Reuters explains.
So why the big losses for Gillette? The company offered some explanations for the dramatic decline, including “currency fluctuations” and “more competition over the past three years and a shrinking market for blades and razors as consumers in developed markets shave less frequently” — the industry overall suffering an estimated 11% decline over the last 5 years, Reuters notes.
But the continued negativity surrounding Gillette suggests that’s not the full story. Gillette politically charged itself in January when it released a commercial offering a new twist on its “best a man can get slogan” that instantly went viral, in large part for exactly the wrong reasons.
In the ad, released mid-January, Gillette asked if toxic masculinity is “the best a man can get?” The commercial features video and audio clips presenting stereotypical bad behavior by men, including sexual harassment, bullying, and physical abuse. “Boys will be boys!” a line of men standing arms crossed behind grills obstinately declare in one dismissive, unified voice.
The #MeToo movement, the commercial suggests, was the moment when everything “finally changed.” Amid news clips of various #MeToo allegations, the narrator tells us, “There will be no going back because we — we believe in the best in men. To say the right thing, to act the right way. Some already are — in ways big and small. But some is not enough because the boys watching today will become the men of tomorrow.”
“‘Boys will be boys’? Isn’t it time we stopped excusing bad behavior? Re-think and take action by joining us at http://TheBestMenCanBe.org,” Gillette said in its tweet releasing the commercial.
The ad was met with widespread backlash, with many now-former Gillette users literally trashing the brand. But Gillette hasn’t eased up on the social justice messaging.
The company has since released a “fat acceptance” ad and another that features a father teaching his female-to-male transgender child how to shave. “Whenever, wherever, however it happens – your first shave is special,” reads the caption for the transgender ad, titled “First Shave, the Story of Samson,” posted on Facebook in May. “Growing up, I was always trying to figure out what kind of man I want to become, and I’m still trying to figure out what kind that I want to become,” says trans activist Samson Bonkeabantu Brown. “It’s not just myself transitioning. It’s everyone around me transitioning,” Brown says in the ad.