Gillette’s new commercial is breaking new ground — and earning both plaudits and condemnation — by depicting a father showing his transgender son how to shave. It’s the latest ad from the razor company that seeks to redefine masculinity.
The ad, posted on Facebook, features a traditional rite of passage for young men — their first shave — but with a twist: Samson Bonkeabantu Brown, a trans rights activist, is shown being tutored by his father in the art of shaving.
“Growing up, I was always trying to figure out what kind of man I wanted to become,” Brown says in the ad. “I always knew I was different. I didn’t know there was a term for the type of person that I was.”
The commercial features Brown talking about searching for his identity and coming to the point where it’s time to learn to shave. As he stands in front of a mirror with lather on his face, Brown’s father says, “Don’t be scared. Shaving is about being confident.”
The video is the latest from Gillette that explores and pushes against against traditional views of masculinity. Although the campaign, which included a January spot about “toxic masculinity,” has riled some viewers, it has also succeeded in getting consumers to notice and talk about the brand. That’s no small feat for a 118-year-old razor company.
Trade magazine AdWeek called Gillete’s latest ad “quietly powerful,” while some consumers said they would buy the company’s razors to show support for the brand’s message. TV host Ellen DeGeneres called the ad “nothing short of incredible.”
Yet others objected to the ad and its depiction of a transgender person, vowing to stop buying Gillette razors.
Brown wrote on Twitter that he is “deeply grateful” for those supporting him. “Throughout my transition, I never thought that I would ever be able to achieve even a fraction of this impact on the world by simply living my truth,” he wrote on Twitter.
Gillette also hasn’t shied away from controversy when it comes to depictions of women. Itthis year for tweeting a photo of an obese woman posing on a beach in a bikini.
The razor maker last week posted the image of Anna O’Brien, a plus-size fashion, fitness and lifestyle blogger, under its @GilletteVenus handle, captioning it, “Go out there and slay the day.” Some Twitter users said the ad glamorizies obesity and that Gillette is promoting an unhealthy lifestyle for profit.