business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Dave Howald:

I enjoyed your opinion on the failure of the WF 365 concept.  I was only able to visit one in-person in lake Oswego Oregon (Portland suburb) and I felt the location was totally wrong.  As you know with your teaching at PSU, Lake Oswego is an upscale enclave.  Of course, I know not everyone who lives there is well above the poverty line, but why would you put a no-frills store in an upscale community?

WF 365 may have suffered from the Fresh & Easy mistaken concept of just leasing a space because it was the right size, available, and inexpensive? I think WF only hurt its brand image by having a lower cost no-frills format.  I give them credit for trying, but why diminish your brand equity?  I know if I shop at WF I maybe paying more, but it's worth it for the quality and what they stand for.

Got a number of email about yesterday’s Eye-Opener looking at Gillette’s new Best A Man Can Be commercial, which takes direct aim at masculinity turned toxic, and the kinds of “boys will be boys” rationales that often follow bad behavior. These attitudes often fuel fighting, bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination … and the commercial, which you can see at left, reflects a reality in which old attitudes now have come face to face with new realities, especially because of the #MeToo movement.

I’m sort of glad I only got one email like this one:

Gillette: disquised tarring of men with a PC brush, while giving Hollywood and Social Media sexual instigators a free pass.  WTH. A new low!

Really? First of all, I think you meant “disguised.”

Second, I don’t think this was an attempt to tar men with a PC brush. It was a laudatory effort to address a very specific male issue - bad behavior - and I don’t think they gave anyone a pass. In fact, there is a brief clip of actor Terry Crews talking about the issue, and he was a victim of Hollywood harassment.

I’m pleased that the rest of email went like this one, from MNB reader Tim Phillips:

I also applaud Gillette for taking a stand with their “the best a man can be” ad. As the father of two young women I loved the depiction of the young man who states "that’s not cool" when the cretin leaning up on the wall steps out of line with his language/actions to a young woman walking on the street. The ad is uplifting and inspirational and what I took from it is that we as adult men have a responsibility to teach the next generation that they need to treat people as they want to be treated- with respect and dignity. Boorish and sexist behavior is not how an honorable man should act.

Terry Crews stated it well. The dinosaurs who are pushing back on the ad are the ones who need to begin to realize that the world is changing and they are headed for extinction (as the dinosaurs did) if they continue to share their dimwitted and outdated views on what being a real man is supposed to be. Clearly these men did not have a father figure who taught them that having empathy and deference for those individuals different than themselves was an important component of being a real man.Surely a good lesson to share with all young men out there seeking the right leadership examples.

MNB reader Greg Lindenberg wrote:

I think it's a great commercial. It's not asking men to sacrifice one iota of what makes them a man, physically, mentally or emotionally. It's not asking them to be "feminine" in any perceivable way, or to change who they are. It's just encouraging them to reject the damaging “stereotypes” of the past and to step up to being a good human being. Being a good husband, a good father, a good person--that's masculinity (in fact, that used to be called “chivalry” or “being a gentleman”).

It takes a lot more courage to take the actions the commercial depicts than to harass, laugh the bad behavior off or do nothing. Now, as a bearded man, I could care less that it's a razor commercial. But I approve the message. It's certainly better than most of the marketing drivel that tells us we should be a rebel and drive their car, buy their beer, smell their way, etc., or risk being left out. Keep those grill fires burning, men, but do it with real pride, not with complacency. Dare to be different. Now THAT's manly.

From another reader:

Thank you for sharing the Gillette ad, I hadn’t seen it yet but had heard some of the rumblings about it. I actually teared up at the end.

We have 2 small children - one boy and one girl - and it’s a huge concern to me that they grow up knowing what is too far, how to respect themselves and others, that crying isn’t just for girls, that no actually means no, that women are strong (not bossy), that men don’t need to mansplain things for women, that they have to work hard to get where they want to be, and be strong and use their knowledge to help make others and the world around them a better place.

I know that my husband and I cannot teach them all of these things, so we rely on our “village”, family, friends, teachers, even TV programs or movies to help convey these messages. Bravo to Gillette for realizing their influence in the culture and taking a stand. Yes, it’s going to tick some people off, but maybe those are the people who need to hear this the most. (I’m looking at you Piers Morgan!)

Piers Morgan is an idiot. (I don’t usually get personal about this stuff, but figured I’d make an exception in his case. I’m not sure why anyone pays attention to him.)

From another:

Probably because I’m a millennial cord-cutter and don’t have cable, I hadn’t yet seen this ad, but now that I have, I’m having a difficult time figuring out where the negative reaction is coming from. I think this is a great commercial. Anything that gets into the mainstream that encourages and reminds people to rise above their baser instincts and behaviors that are wrong but that are currently societally acceptable is welcome, and I’m a proponent of keeping the momentum because there is still much work to be done.

And another:

Thank you for running the Gillette ad, and for your comments. They can’t be said too many times.
From MNB reader Jackie Lembke:

Admittedly I am not male, but I fail to see how this ad is anything but positive. Makes me rethink which brand of razors I buy.
KC's View: