A lot of chatter happening this week, which made me postpone what I planned to write about for another week. As many are undoubtedly aware Gillette, a company that markets razors to both men and women, aired a controversial commercial linked here.
This is my review of Full Sail Malted Milkshake IPA:
Many took the message as a negative, saying the commercial insults their customer base. Making a statement like this their critics say, will drive their customers away, that disagree with the social statement being made. Strange, given the company itself profits from one of the defining physical characteristics of men—having a beard.
Gillette itself is not a stand alone company that will suffer as a result of this, rather they are a subsidiary of Proctor & Gamble. As of this writing P&G was not immediately shorted by a large number of investors, like what happened with Nike. Their stock price was rather flat for the week. Unlike Nike, their product lines are diverse and are necessities that nearly everyone uses. People will continue buying their soap, their toothpaste and Double Quilted Charmin Toilet Paper. While it can be argued this is not the first time P&G made such a social statement with one of its brands (remember the ‘like a girl’ campaign?) this is different because they did not criticize previously. Rather they took what was a pejorative often used by men toward other men (i.e. you play ball like a girl!) and turned it into something positive. Here it appeared to be open criticism, constructive or not.
Interestingly enough, another P&G brand is Old Spice, whose marketing campaign a few years ago appealed to the lighter side of masculinity, to great success.
The merits of the message itself, and whether it was intended to insult is not a question to be answered here. As usual such interpretation is best left to the individual. Will I buy Gillette’s products? No. Recently, a fellow Glib challeneged me with an incredibly thoughtful gift. Should I do what I always do and pick up yet another skill, I may never need to buy a razor again.
A better question is, are the attributes commonly associated with men something we evolved beyond? Men typically are more predictable than women at any given time, more assertive, are motivated by physical things, are driven to compete and succeed at different interests than women. The downside to this, is men more often than women will behave recklessly, and aggressively. These characteristics though are even now being portrayed as positive attributes—in women, as this recruiting commercial for the United States Marines Corps suggests.
Have we moved past the point where the potential for the negative is too much of a liability for any benefit it can provide? Competition often breeds adversity, which does not have to be a bad thing. Teaching others in that sense, to overcome adversity and handle it when it defeats them while they are young may be in their best interests later on. Others might be less assertive, and might have a more difficult time adjusting so the argument to show respect for the brainy kid also has merit, because one might not grow up and cure cancer if he or she is always being put down. Is developing confidence through physical strength best frowned upon, to allow for the more cerebral, even one that might go so far as to act (ahem) like a girl?
Why does it have to be one or the other? As I write this, I am at my son’s Tae Kwon Do class. I am reminded of last week while he was sparring a older boy, with a higher belt. My son comes across as the brainy kid; in fact he takes an advanced math course because it comes easy to him. That day, his opponent moved to strike with a round kick. In response, he stepped in closer to avoid the kick’s impact and landed a front kick to his opponent. His opponent, a larger and more experienced martial artist, lost his balance and found himself on the floor. At that moment, my son beat his opponent by outsmarting him. He learned more about himself than I could ever teach, but he’s still a math geek.
In the end they shook hands and moved to their next opponent. No hard feelings.
If men acting like men are frowned upon, perhaps a way to fight this perception is to understand why those attributes are positive and where to apply them. The fact these attributes are being encouraged in women is proof enough then are a benefit to society. The attributes cannot be negated, unlearned, or taken away, they are hard wired psychologically and genetically. The trick then becomes learning how and when to strike, and use the inherent strengths tactically. Perhaps then, critics will see the problem is not masculinity, but in their own shortcomings.
As for the beer, it appears Full Sail went and rebranded unfiltered Sculpin. Which for the IPA…people is not a bad thing. Not the hoppiest of IPA out there, but if you dig grapefruit and texture this will not dissapoint. Full Sail Malted Milkshake IPA: 2.7/5