In January 2019, Gillette released a new ad that turned the company’s old slogan, “The Best a Man Can Get,” into a reflection on the all-too-common toxic masculinity. Titled “We Believe,” it was directed by a woman, filmmaker Kim Gehring, and featured a diverse cast of boys getting bullied, young people watching media representatives of macho teenagers objectifying women, and of men looking at themselves in the mirror. In the background of the video, news reports of #MeToo can be heard. The voiceover asks: “Is this the best a man can get?” The film showed how men can do better by actively pointing out toxic behavior, intervening when other men sexually harass a woman and dragging fighting children apart.
The ad provoked an immediate worldwide reaction: as of this year, it has more than 33 million views on Youtube. Some shared the link mentioning how the ad moved them to tears. There was also an intense backlash from right-wing men’s activists groups and outlets such as Fox News. Some men argued that the film was “anti-men” and that it rejected traditional masculine traits. However, the company argued that its new ad was a sign of progress. This ad campaign, which is one of the sources of inspiration behind this exhibition, shows how personal care products reflect society and are one of the battlegrounds on which broader cultural struggles are waged.