Gillette again takes on toxic masculinity, this time with a made-in-Canada spot

In January, P&G promised to take on toxic masculinity with an instantly viral video called “We believe.”

The ad generated a wide range of opinions: some loved it, some hated it, and somewhere in between was a cohort skeptical that P&G was serious about the cause, having shown no interest prior to the video.

Well, P&G is sticking to the message, releasing a new video to Facebook late last week that shows a young trans man from Toronto shaving for the first time in his life—with some help from his father. “It’s not just myself transitioning,” says Samson Bonkeabantu Brown. “It’s everybody around me transitioning.”

The ad is from Grey Canada, which declined to say much when contacted by The Message. “Masculinity comes in many forms today and we were delighted to tell Samson’s story… he can do it better than I ever can,” said Owen Dougherty, chief communications officer for Grey Group.

But the genesis of the ad actually goes back a few years, to when Patrick Scissons was running Grey Canada and was part of the Grey Global Creative Council working on Gillette. Scissons is listed as a creative director on the film, while Graeme Campbell was copywriter and Logan Gabel was the art director, both of whom are now with DentsuBos.

“P&G has proven to be one of the few marketing power players that truly takes an authentic stand on important issues. I think in today’s cultural climate, consumers respect and demand more of that,” Scissons told The Message.

But do brands know for sure that ads like this will actually help them sell more product? “That’s where the bravery part comes in,” said Scissons, who now owns and operates Ostrich Algorithm, a digital innovation and product development firm in Toronto. “A marketer is making a statement about their brand values and what’s important to them. If someone doesn’t share or support those values, they are free to not support the brand and buy the product. Simple as that.”

The film was directed by Angie Bird for production company Skin and Bones“As I dove deeper into the stories of the subjects, I really started to understand how big of a moment the ‘first shave’ was to them,” said Bird. “I love that Gillette is deciding to tell more diverse stories. I think it’s important for brands to connect to a larger audience and tell stories that we haven’t seen before.”


David Brown