I’m not a fan of “woke” advertising. Mostly because I find it wholly disingenuous. I still haven’t really come across an advertisement that didn’t feel more like a marketing ploy then a statement of values. Also, it’s just… weird?

Realistically, who has ever watched a Nike commercial and said, “This is it. After three years of non-stop debate about Colin Kaepernick and his beliefs, this is it. This two minute commercial that talks around the issues he actually cares about without directly mentioning them; this made me care.”

Nobody has ever done that, because woke ad campaigns aren’t meant to do that. They aren’t meant to change minds or even promote discussion. The primary purpose of any advertisement, no matter what the underlying message, is always to sell something, and that’s something we shouldn’t lose sight of. The final decision, when it comes to any ad, is one based on money and selling a product.

Their objective is to target a group of people who already agree with the message, not in a way to impassion them, but to hopefully profit from them. And this is their way of targeting a group of generally progressive millennials.

It makes “woke” ads feel, to me at least, something less then “woke.” It can deliver a message promoting a pertinent social message, but that message is driven by consumerism and profits. And frankly, I really don’t believe that many corporations really believe their social message is pertinent, or even important.

The corporations that produce “woke” advertisements are still corporations, and corporations don’t really have values. The people that start them do, sure, and these people can even be altruistic and other wise good, but corporations, even ones started with altruistic intentions by good people, don’t. In the end, corporations are still a group of people who are united by one goal: earn a profit. And this goal drives how these corporations act and make everyday decisions on what they support.

I don’t think Gillette’s main focuses are all that lofty or altruistic; unless they really believe the ultimate question to life, the universe, and everything is, “How many blades should a disposable razor have?” I would guess that at the end of the day, Gillette is still more focused on profit than they are on social issues.

Yet, they have one of the most prevalent “woke” commercials. Everyone is well aware of the recent Gillette ad, “the best men can be” that made the rounds before the Super Bowl, and the controversy that ensued with it. Gillette released a commercial that critiqued toxic masculinity that went viral, and a knee-jerk reaction ensued from some men who disagreed with Gillette’s take. I fully support the message of the commercial, but I don’t think that is reason yet to support Gillette, or think of them as a corporation that values gender rights. 

That’s reflected in many of their actions beyond the two minute ad. Their parent company, Proctor and Gamble, owns a super PAC that still donates mostly to politicians that have less than satisfactory voting records on gender issues, but are strongly anti-regulatory.

But I think there is a way for Gillette to still show that they really value what they say they believe in, and the time for that is quickly approaching.

Robert Kraft, who is the owner of the Kraft Group but probably most well known for being the owner of the New England Patriots, was recently arrested and charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting another to commit prostitution. Kraft was allegedly caught on video receiving sexual acts at a Florida massage parlor. Police reports indicate that many of the woman at the massage parlor were victims of trafficking.

This is absolutely not the best men can be, and Gillette has a very real way to show if they truly believe in the values that their advertisement espouses.

Gillette currently owns the naming rights to the New England Patriot’s stadium. Robert Kraft very directly profits from this relationship, and Gillette could pull out of the agreement. I personally don’t think they will, and maybe I’m jaded for that. But they don’t seem all that willing currently to end a relationship with one of the largest American sports franchises.

I hope that the decision makers at Gillette will consider their values, and consider whether this is a relationship that they hope to remain in. I would hope they come to the decision that is reflective of the best men can be and prove me wrong in the process, but for now I can’t really say I support them.

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