When Gillette released its ad last week, it clearly wanted to get people talking. And the commentariat has delivered in spades, following the textbook pattern of takes on any hot topic.
The first takes on the ad — sorry, “short film” — mostly brought to the world via social media, were pretty evenly divided between those incredibly offended (we’re looking at you, Piers Morgan) and those delighted by the message.
The first flushes of outrage were still hot as men took videos of themselves throwing out their razors while, at the same time, others heaped praise on the ad.
Within a day, having had time to consider the ad and ensuing reaction, the takes took a broader look at the theme of the ad: toxic masculinity. The Sydney Morning Herald’s editorial said it was “hard to see what the fuss is about”. “Ultimately this ad only makes explicit a theme that is implicit in many ads,” it said.
Meanwhile, other measured takes considered the meaning of such a negative reaction and why the ad made feminists uncomfortable.
As per the usual pattern: as soon as the considered takes have been published, the contrarian takes begin. In this case, Gillette was being called out for its “pink tax” (higher prices for women’s razors than men’s), and a questionable track record on gender equality. Elsewhere, the ad was “actually quite conservative“.
The take for the sake of a take take
You could argue that many of the takes on this topic could be listed in this category, but the best example came from News Corp’s Miranda Devine (whose pet topic is masculinity and gender). Devine had a second take published in her network’s newspapers on Sunday, which repeated points already made and bizarrely accused anyone who disagreed with her previous take of “gaslighting” her.
Advertising people love to talk about their own industry, and they were given plenty of opportunity for their own takes on the business side of the ad. In The Sydney Morning Herald, journalist Charles Purcell described the ad as confused, and representative of an “industry in crisis”. Marketing guru Mark Riston called it “vindictive” and “accusatory”, while industry rag AdNews ran a roundtable of advertising creatives sharing their own takes.
Outrage at the outrage takes
Without fail, take-makers like this ad are hijacked as a launchpad for other topics. The tragedy of Aiia Maasarwe’s murder last week coincided with the height of the Gillette takes, and ended up getting bundled up in takes about toxic masculinity and gendered violence.